'This is corruption': Olympic champ launches extraordinary attack

Sweden's Nils van der Poel has levelled a stunning accusation against the Dutch speedskating program. Pic: Getty
Sweden's Nils van der Poel has levelled a stunning accusation against the Dutch speedskating program. Pic: Getty

Swedish Olympic gold medalist Nils van der Poel has sparked uproar at the Winter Olympics after accusing the Netherlands speedskating program of "corruption".

Van der Poel's victory in the 5,000 metres gave Sweden its first speedskating medal since 1988, in a sport that is often dominated by the Dutch.

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However, the Swede has been left fuming over a report that claims Dutch officials try to influence the ice makers to set up conditions that benefit their own athletes.

Van der Poel said he had read an article on a Dutch website that suggested the world's strongest team is using a scientist to try to make sure the Ice Ribbon oval is set up to its advantage.

Van der Poel lashed the reports during a scathing press conference at the Olympic Village, three days after winning gold.

"This isn't my idea of fair play," van der Poel said.

"The Olympics is higher, stronger, faster. This is corruption. This is trying to alter the field of play in your favour by using unethical and immoral means."

While saying he has confidence in Mark Messer, the man who oversees the ice, van der Poel said the Dutch program deserved to be punished if the report is true.

"This is the biggest scandal in our sport," he said.

"We have doping cases in our sport every now and then. I do not see how this is any less serious."

Dutch technical director Maurits Hendriks refuted the suggestion that his team had done anything untoward and branded van der Poel's comments "unworthy of an Olympic champion."

"Measuring the ice temperature has been going on for 20 years," Hendriks said in Dutch media.

"And anyone who comes to the skating rink more often sees that all countries have contact with the ice master."

The Netherlands has won three of the first four events at the Ice Ribbon and claimed a total of six medals.

The Netherlands also dominated speedskating at the last two Olympics.

Seen here, Dutch technical director Maurits Hendriks at a Winter Olympics press conference in Beijing.
Dutch technical director Maurits Hendriks has refuted the explosive corruption claims from Sweden's Nils van der Poel. Pic: Getty

Nils van der Poel wants report investigated

"I don't believe that Mark Messer would let himself be duped into doing something with the ice," van der Poel said.

"But knowing that there is (a) guy trying to show him data to get in his head making decisions benefiting the Dutch skaters, that I find very provoking."

Van der Poel, who edged Patrick Roest of the Netherlands for the 5,000 gold medal, stressed that he was not criticising his Dutch rivals.

"I have the biggest respect for the Dutch speed skaters. I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't thanks to those guys. They pushed me to push myself."

Van der Poel said he is eager to see what action the International Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union might take.

In the meantime, his attention turns to the 10,000 on Friday, when van der Poel will be the favourite but is likely to get another strong challenge from the Dutch.

"This is an abomination," van der Poel said. "I like it to be fair, to be just. I like it to be about sport and competing. I wish it not to be about affecting judges, affecting administrative personnel.

"When you do things like this, we really must question the authenticity of the results."

with AAP

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