Swiss cross-country skier Patrick Mächler has been sent home for not trying hard enough in Sunday's relay race.This content was published on February 20, 2002 - 03:17
The Swiss team finished the 4x10km event in tenth place, with Mächler himself managing only the 13th fastest time in his section (out of 15 competing nations).
The 29-year-old from canton Schwyz was expected to be one of the stronger members of the team after recording three top-20 finishes on this season's World Cup tour. When later asked about his weak performance, Mächler said he hadn't tried too hard because the team were already in a poor position.
"I cannot accept his admission that he wasn't giving 100 per cent," fumed cross-county coach Ulf Morten Aune as he announced the athlete's expulsion. "Regardless of the situation, you have to work as hard as you can in team competition, especially at the Olympics."
"We have been preparing ourselves for Salt Lake City for a long time now, and have provided round-the-clock care and support for the athletes," Aune added.
Mächler is the third member of the Swiss Olympic squad to be sent home after falling foul of his association.
Last Wednesday ice hockey players Reto von Arx and Marcel Jenni were given their marching orders after embarking on an all-night drinking session following their team's decisive defeat to Ukraine.
Nordic skiers miss out again
Apart from Mächler's comments, Switzerland's cross-country skiers have attracted little attention at the Salt Lake Games and in purely sporting terms Tuesday was no exception.
In the men's sprint race, Christoph Eigenmann failed to progress beyond the first qualifying stage, missing out on a place in the quarter-final heats by 0.89 seconds.
In the women's race, run over the same 1.5km distance, Andrea Huber also came up short during the qualifiers, finishing more than three seconds off the pace.
The men's race was won by Norwegian favourite Tor Arne Hetland with Julie Tchepalova taking the women's gold.
Success for freestyle coach
There was success of sorts for Switzerland in Tuesday's freestyle skiing action, although it was a Swiss coach rather than a Swiss athlete who was celebrating.
The cause of the celebration was Czech freestyler Ales Valenta who won a surprise gold medal in the men's aerials final, to the delight of his Swiss coach Michel Roth.
Roth, who is also the trainer of the Swiss national team, had much less to smile about on Monday when Switzerland's own gold medal favourite Evelyn Leu crashed out of the women's event.
swissinfo with agencies
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