Three top Norwegian sports stars were being widely shamed on Thursday, after Norway’s national ski federation charged them with violating ethical regulations and engaging in distinctly unsportsmanlike behaviour. All three are effectively being fined as well.
The ski federation (Norges Skiforbund) announced that Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tarjei Bø and his brother Johannes Thingnes Bø have been reprimanded and will have as much as NOK 100,000 (USD 17,000) of their bonus and stipend payments retracted. All three young men are star members of the Norwegian national biathlon team, with Svendsen winning gold at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“They broke the federation’s ethical regulations by (exhibiting) unacceptable behavior and committing acts of vandalism while intoxicated,” stated the ski federation in a press release on Thursday.
Website Nettavisen reported that an email sent to other members of the national biathlon team explained that Svendsen and the Bø brothers “went out on the town” during a biathlon World Cup event in Pokljuka, Slovenia last month. They “drank alcohol, went swimming in the sea and committed vandalism by letting the air out of the tires of (vehicles belonging to) various nations and service teams outside the hotel,” according to the email obtained by Nettavisen. Among the vehicles left with flat tires was one belonging to the Swedish national biathlon team.
Police in Slovenia had earlier told website NRK.no that no formal complaints were immediately filed against the Norwegian athletes, while sports chief Per Arne Botnan had called the incident “an internal matter.” Botnan told NRK, however, that the athletes had violated the federation’s ethical rules, had received written warnings and had accepted them.
On Thursday he confirmed “grave violations” of the contracts that the athletes have with the federation. Botnan said that Svendsen and the Bø brothers, who are good friends as well as rivals, had “various reactions” to their official reprimands but “understood” the warnings they received, “and that’s the most important.”
Their conduct was being described as everything from “childish” to “hopeless” in Norwegian media. Neither Emil Hegle Svendsen, Tarjei Bø nor Johannes Thingnes Bø had faced reporters by Thursday midday, refusing to respond to all the media calls. Svendsen, age 28 from Trondheim, has won a total of 14 gold and five silver medals in world championship and Olympic competition and has claimed 35 World Cup victories in what the Norwegians call skiskyting. He won two gold medals at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi but also failed badly in one race he’d been widely expected to win.
Tarjei Bø, age 25 from the mountain town of Stryn, was disappointed by his performance at the recent Olympics and also dropped the World Cup at Holmenkollen in Oslo right after the Slovenia incident on the grounds he was sick. His younger brother Johannes, age 20, took part in his first Olympics in Sochi but failed to win any medals.