It seems Speed Skating Canada and 2010 Olympic gold medalist Mathieu Giroux are working toward a solution to the bureaucratic kerfuffle that has left the Montreal-based skater out in the cold.
Giroux met for two hours last Wednesday with a trio of senior officials from the governing body in a bid to resolve the impasse which resulted in him being booted from the national team. A follow-up meeting is set for next week.
As first reported by The Globe and Mail, Speed Skating Canada suspended Giroux’s funding and other benefits this fall after the 26-year-old, who won gold in the team pursuit at the Vancouver Games, declined to relocate to the national training centre in Calgary.
Giroux is studying towards a pharmacy degree at the University of Montreal, which he must complete by 2015. He’ll finish his course work next spring, and wrap up a 12-month internship after the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
In a statement issued late Thursday, federation president Marie-Claire Rouleau said: “We have the responsibility and will to find a solution together.”
Giroux couldn’t be reached for comment, but a source close to the situation said he is encouraged and hopes to have his situation resolved ahead of next month’s national qualifiers for the World Cup and 2013 world championships.
The original decision created an outcry in Quebec and beyond - on Parliament Hill, the opposition NDP and Bloc Québécois demanded the federal government and the Canadian Olympic Committee, which receives federal funding, intervene.
The government brushed the request aside, but the COC, which initially indicated the dispute had to be resolved by the athlete and his federation, issued a statement suggesting president Marcel Aubut has taken a personal interest in the matter.
“We view this as a positive step in the right direction,” Aubut said. “We applaud Speed Skating Canada’s dedication to resolve this extremely complex situation and to meet with Mathieu again next week.”
Though Giroux, a former short-track skater, has spent the last two years training with his former teammates in Montreal, the federation decided earlier this year it was no longer appropriate for him to train separately from the rest of the long-track team.
The reigning Canadian 1,500-metres champion had offered to move to Calgary, where his girlfriend lives, next summer to train full-time for Sochi.