The COC is taking allegations against Dave Duncan, his wife Maja and Canadian athletic director Willy Raine seriously after the three were detained by police in South Korea.
“It was going so well,” sighed the official for the Canadian Olympic Committee. The COC had just completed their Games-closing press conference, and they have much to show. The most medals for our country at any Winter Games in history. A righteous stand against Russia carrying its colours and flag into the closing ceremony due to doping violations. A Games-closing flag-bearer in Kim Boutin whose time here has been filled with drama, victory, disappointment, everything.
And as the victory lap was being completed, the news was breaking that a Canadian athlete, his wife and a coach had been arrested for allegedly stealing an idling Humvee and driving it while drunk late on Friday night, or early Saturday morning.
The Toronto Star was the first to confirm it was ski cross racer Dave Duncan of London, Ont., along with his wife Maja. The CBC confirmed that it was ski cross athletic director Willy Raine who was allegedly driving the stolen car. The Canadian Olympic Committee, either caught flat-footed or trying not to shift the spotlight from an admirable Games, declined to name him, but said they took the allegations seriously.
Details were fuzzy, but the basic version was that they were drinking in the neighbourhood of Daegwallyeong-ri, not far from the Olympic Stadium. A tourist had left his Humvee running — it remains astonishing that no matter your culture, anybody still drives a Humvee in non-military situations — and the inebriated Canucks piled in and drove off for the athletes village in Pyeongchang, which wasn’t very far away either.
They were pulled over near the village; they were, according to photographs acquired by local media, wearing red Team Canada jackets, red Team Canada vests, red Canada team toques, and red Team Canada boots.
Raine’s blood alcohol level was reported to be .160, which would be twice the legal limit for impaired driving in Canada, and three times the limit in South Korea. It was reported they told police they took the car because they were cold. They were released from custody, according to the COC, who said Korean police had concluded their investigation.
If true, this is a laundry list of painfully stupid behaviour. This was Duncan’s first Olympics, at age 35; he finished fourth in the secondary small final, which had to be considered a good result for him. He was thrilled with his run here, saying, “I was the best version of myself today. I’m leaving here happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
He had also been a strong advocate for safety in the sport since the 2012 death of Canadian Nik Zoricic. He is known to be a good guy, who continued in the sport despite not having big-time results. This was his last and only chance at the Olympics, and he was his best self on the course, and in sports, flying beneath the medals and the glory, that’s all you can ask.
Raine, meanwhile, is the son of Canadian ski legend Nancy Greene, named Canada’s female athlete of the 20th century. And yes, the Olympics are a party, especially for athletes who have completed competition. As one former luger said the other day, luge is the best for that: If you’re only in solo men’s luge, you’re done on Day 2.
We have almost all done stupid things when drinking, sometimes in a foreign country. At an Olympics this should be called a Lochte, after American swimmer Ryan Lochte, who along with three other swimmers trashed a Rio gas station bathroom in 2016, claimed to have been robbed. Lochte claimed the robbers put a gun to his head as his teammates lay on the ground, and that “I put my hands up, I was like ‘whatever.'”
The story fell apart, and one national American radio host wrote me to say that in 20 years, Ryan Lochte was the dumbest person he had ever interviewed. Gold medal, kid.
Well, he’s got company, and it’s a shame. They all apologized profusely in statements released through the COC early Sunday morning, and I am inclined to believe they meant it. One, driving drunk isn’t funny; it can kill people. Two, plenty of Canadians have been cold and drunk, and maybe even far from home, and not very many of them are stupid enough to steal a Humvee.
And three, Canada has legitimately had a great and appreciable Games, and this idiot stunt arrived just in time to overshadow it. Canada’s 29 medals puts it second overall entering the final day of competition Sunday; only Norway and Germany have more golds. Despite curling’s failure to win medals in the men’s or women’s team competition, and no medal in the women’s 3,000-metre short-track relay for the first time since it was introduced in 1992, the depth and breadth of sports in this country has never been deeper. For example, we won the country’s first two medals in luge: a bronze from Alex Gough and a silver in the relay, from a team who had a medal stolen from them by Russian doping in Sochi, and who spoke out with conviction and courage against doping here. Sam Edney, Gough, Tristan Walker, Justin Snith: They, along with so many Canadian athletes, should be proud.
Boutin is a worthy flag-bearer, in a country full of them, who endured a tumultuous Games filled with angry Korean fans, a disqualification in the women’s 3,000-metre relay, some intense social media pressure and even death threats from Korean fans, and still won three medals. As she said, she had to overcome what, to her, was real fear here.
And Canada’s moral stand against Russia’s reinstatement for the closing ceremony — the International Olympic Committee could not decide in a Saturday night session, pushing the decision to Sunday morning — puts this country on the right side of the fight for clean sport.
“We want to send a message that we believe in clean and fair sports,” said chef de mission Isabelle Charest. “We’ve been an advocate of clean sports for many years.”
And then some people who were valued and good members of our country’s delegation here made some of the stupidest decisions of their lives. Canada made a great show of trying to come into these Games trying to win, but with virtue. It was an idea that came from their athletes: they wanted to be good, and great. Well, that’s what Canada did, and one bozo move doesn’t change that. It just shows how hard it is to be good, all the way through.