Match-fixing? Dutch speed skating coach reprimanded over 2014 Olympics

2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony
2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremonyPhoto: Atos International / Wikimedia Commons

Dutch speed skating coach Jillert Anema was reprimanded for attempted match fixing during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sotsji. Four years ago he received an official warning from Maurits Hendriks - then the chief of the Dutch Olympic Team's mission - for violating Olympic values, the Volkskrant reports.

Dutch sports organization NOC*NSF confirmed that Anema crossed the line at the previous Olympics to NOS. "We regret that this story came out now", Hendriks, now technical director of the NOC*NSF, said to the broadcaster. "Today [the day of the 10 kilometer skating pursuit at the Winter Olympics in South Korea] should have been only about the sporting battle on the ice."

In the 2014 Winter Olympics, Anema coached skater Jorrit Bergsma, but also guided France's pursuit team. In this capacity he asked Dutch national coach Arie Koops to let the Dutch team take it easy during the first round of the pursuit, according to the Volkskrant. Anema was worried about the French skaters losing face and funds, because one skater on the team was suffering from thyroid disease and was actually too weak to compete. He therefore wanted the Dutch skaters to skate slowly in the first lap, so that the French skaters would not lose face.

The warning that Hendriks gave to Anema, which the newspaper has in its possession, states that Anema promised that the Netherlands would still win. If a Dutch skater were to fall, his French skater Alexis Contin would drop back. Hendriks ruled that this was an attempt at match fixing, which is in violation of "Olympic values and the values of sport in general, such as fair play and respect". 

Gerard Dielessen, general director at NOC*NSF, told that Anema's actions were clearly in conflict with the code of ethics. "At the time I determined that Maurits Hendriks acted correctly by rejecting the idea unequivocally." 

Current Chef de mission of the Dutch Olympic team Jeroen Bijl finds it disturbing that this story came out today of all days - the day of the 10 kilometers for men. "The timing of this case is very bad", Bijl said from the parking lot of the Gangnueng Oval on Thursday, reports. "It is very disturbing and bad for the team." He was informed about the Volkskrant's story on Wednesday night. "We told all coaches this morning, and the general conclusion was that we are here for only one thing and that is skating and collecting medals."

Bijl was Hendriks' assistant in the 2014 Winter Olympics. "I know most of the ins and outs of this case. It happened in 2014 and was handled by the board and directors of NOC*NSF." Bijl said. "Nothing came out about it. No, I was not at all afraid that it would leak now during these Winter Games. That happened and that is a shame."

He did not want to comment on how NOC*NSF handled the situation. "We are going to skate again today. We will have to see if there are any consequences, but from NOC*NSF it has clearly been dealt with." He added: "This can be a very special day for the whole of the Netherlands and for TeamNL, so we try to keep this matter as far away as possible from the team."