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Olympics Triathlon Canada responds to Whitfield’s remarks on Findlay, accepts partial blame

Paula Findlay of Canada competes in the women's triathlon final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Hyde Park August 4, 2012.

TIM WIMBORNE/REUTERS

Triathlon Canada has accepted some of the blame for the poor performance of Paula Findlay, who finished last in the Olympic triathlon Saturday.

Findlay came into the race as one of the favourites but has been hampered for months by an injury to her hip. She had not finished a triathlon for nearly a year heading into the Games but insisted that she had recovered.

After the race, a tearful Findlay apologized for her performance and did not blame the injury, saying instead that her legs just simply had no energy.

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Fellow triathlete Simon Whitfield, who is competing in the men's event Tuesday, has been critical of Findlay's former coach Patrick Kelly as well as team medical staff including Dr. David Smith and Debbie Muir, who works with the Own The Podium program.

Even before Findlay's race was over, Whitfield was tweeting that Findlay had been badly served and that many people needed to take responsibility for her performance. He continued Sunday, telling Canadian Press that Findlay's training and treatment had been completely mismanaged.

"I'm not saying people should be fired," he said. "I'm just saying they should stand up and say 'that's on me.' Because it was all on Paula yesterday. We all saw it. I want Doc Smith and Patrick and Debbie Muir to step up and say 'I endorsed that plan. She was injured for a year. She did what I told her to do and in the end, it failed.' Have the courage to say 'yesterday's result is on me.'

In a statement Alan Trivett, executive director and acting high-performance director of Triathlon Canada, said he regretted the timing of Whitfield's remarks, "but there is some validity in them that we all at Triathlon Canada, collectively, need to take responsibility for what transpired during Paula's Olympic race."

He added that Triathlon Canada "surrounded Paula Findlay with a team of dedicated individuals – all of whom – were committed to helping Paula achieve excellence in London. Post-Olympics, Triathlon Canada will work collaboratively with our team and partners work to improve our injury management and athlete preparation protocols as we all look back at Paula's preparations for the Games, in order to ensure that we continue to provide nothing but the best possible support for all our athletes."

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