Kaillie Humphries free to compete for U.S. after Bobsleigh Canada grants her release

Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton says it has released Kaillie Humphries, freeing her to compete for the United States. The organization announced the move Saturday night in a letter from its board of directors.

2-time Olympic champ was suing for her release in order to compete for the U.S.

Canadian Olympic athlete Kaillie Humphries poses for a photo at the Olympic Summit in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, June 3, 2017. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Kaillie Humphries is free to pilot bobsleds for the United States.

The two-time Olympic champion and 15-year member of the Canadian team has been granted her release by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. 

BCS announced the move Saturday night in a letter from its board of directors.

The relationship between Humphries and BCS had become acrimonious and spilled into civil court.

After asking BCS to let her go Aug. 3, the 34-year-old Calgarian went to court seeking an injunction forcing her release. A Calgary judge denied her request last week. 

Humphries then took her case to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, which assists in resolving disputes involving federally-funded sports organizations.

The clock was ticking. Humphries required her release by Monday in order to race for the United States this winter.

'Honour' to represent Canadians

Humphries responded to her release on Sunday with a lengthy post on Twitter in which she thanks Canadian fans.

"It has been my pleasure and the greatest honour of my life to represent you on the world stage wearing the maple leaf," she wrote.

Humphries said she is "heartbroken" to be leaving, but she feels "the biggest issue is safety in amateur sports for athletes, being able to compete free from abuse and harassment. The need to be able to speak up without fear of retribution within the system or the public eye, when things aren't right, is so desperately important."

Humphries had filed a harassment complaint against her coach and said harassment-free sport is still a "work in progress."

While BCS was reluctant to part with an athlete it had invested time and money in over the last decade and a half, it ultimately decided to move on.

"This was not an easy decision, nor was it one we took lightly," BCS said in its statement. "Alongside our stakeholders, we carefully weighed all the relevant factors in this important and complex decision of releasing a medal-potential athlete to one of our top competitors.

"Ultimately, we firmly believe that supporting our current athletes and the positive culture they have developed as a team will foster the environment we need to successfully grow our sport and slide onto the international podium both now, and in the future."

2018 Olympic bobsleigh champion Justin Kripps has been acting as the spokesperson for the Bobsleigh Canada athletes. When contacted by CBC News, Kripps provided the following statement.

"I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision for the program to make and I'm sure they've put much more thought into it than I have and considered it from every angle. I think they just want to be done with the whole situation and move on now that the season is right around the corner and this is the fastest way to do that."

He pointed out that the team competed last year with Kaillie taking the year off and had a successful season both on the men's and women's side.

"I'm sure a young driver will be pumped to inherit the sled Kaillie was using and join in on the team-centred culture we've been building. I'll be beside them with the rest of the veterans helping lift them up in any way we can so we're ready with a full contingent of strong united athletes to make Canada proud at Beijing 2022."

Humphries competed in U.S. push trials a week ago as a guest.

She filed a harassment complaint with BCS over a year ago against a coach and the organization's management, stating BCS was in violation of its own harassment and discrimination policies.

BCS handed the complaint to an independent third-party company that specializes in investigating such claims.

Hill Advisory Services concluded "in the investigator's opinion there has been no breach to relevant policy."

Humphries lives in California and married an American earlier this month.

Humphries and brakewoman Heather Moyse won gold in 2010 and 2014 to become the first women to repeat as Olympic bobsled champions.

According to a statement provided to CBC Sports from USA Bobsled CEO John Rosen "USA Bobsled is honoured Kallie wishes to compete with us. USABS is very proud of the history of achievement from our athletes, and we welcome Kaillie's desire to be part of that proud tradition."

USA Bobsled coach Mike Kohn, when informed of the decision by The Associated Press, said "this is what we've been waiting for and we cannot wait to work with Kaillie."

With files from The Associated Press


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