Support, advice for Kaillie Humphries rolls in after bombshell announcement
Former Olympian says situation disappointing to Canada, but Humphries might be better off stateside
That's Diane Jones-Konihowski's reaction to the news Kaillie Humphries is suing Bobsleigh Canada and looking south for future opportunities, announced late Thursday.
"It's really unfortunate that we have lost a female role model. Anytime we lose a female athlete, like Kaillie, who has been so successful as an Olympic champion, it's very disappointing," Jones-Konihowski, a decorated Olympian and former Canadian Olympic Committee member, told CBC News.
"If she is, in fact, going to be competing for the United States, then we have got some real head-to-head competition awaiting our Canadian women's team."
Humphries is suing the national governing body for blocking her release from the team and breaching their contract relating to athlete and coach code of conduct.
Last August, Humphries filed a harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada, telling CBC in January she was in "a position where my workplace environment was impaired and I couldn't compete."
She's been waiting for more than a year for the national sport organization to complete its internal investigation.
Her lawyer says the 34-year-old athlete from Calgary didn't have a lot of options.
"Kaillie has basically been driven off the Canadian bobsled team," Jeffrey Rath said Friday.
In his view, Bobsleigh Canada broke its own rules.
"After she filed her complaint, punitive action was taken against her. She wasn't invited to training camps this summer. She was told that if she returned to competition for Canada, she was going to be given a 1991 sled, which is not competitive at a world level, let alone safe."
Rath claims other athletes were threatened with blacklisting if they worked with Humphries.
"Bobsled Canada's version of Own the Podium is, 'We own the podium and Kaillie Humphries is not allowed on it,'" Rath said.
What if Humphries is welcomed to compete for the United States, as she is hoping?
That's a strong possibility, says a former track and field Olympian who left Canada to compete for another country.
"Austrians were hungry for talent, I guess, and they just made it so easy for me to come over there and compete for them," Mark McKoy said.
That was in 1992 after McKoy took gold for Canada in the Barcelona Olympics.
"I jumped off the plane and had three sponsors right away. I had zero in Canada after winning in the Olympics."
McKoy said the normal, roughly 10-year process of becoming an Austrian citizen was slashed to six months for him.
Lawyer says she didn't have a choice
Meanwhile, Humphries' lawyer says that despite marrying an American, she didn't want to leave the country she loves.
"The Canadian team has made it clear that they're putting the interests of the head coach above the interests of their star Olympic athlete. That's a decision they've made."
With files from Devin Heroux, Tahirih Foroozan and Erin Collins