February 26, 2010
The International Olympic Committee will investigate the actions of Canadian women's hockey players who celebrated their gold medal victory Thursday night by swigging beer and smoking cigars on the ice in Vancouver.
A number of players, including 18-year-old superstar Marie-Philip Poulin, were drinking alcohol on the ice following the team's 2-0 defeat of the United States. (The legal drinking age in British Columbia is 19.) Players lingered for more than 70 minutes after the awards ceremony reveling in the arena, which was empty except for media and arena staff. (Click here to view a slideshow of the celebration.)
Gilbert Felli, the IOC's executive director of the Olympic Games, said that drinking in public was "not what we want to see" from athletes at an Olympic venue. The organization will investigate the actions and will speak with the international hockey federation and Canadian Olympic Committee and ask them to "act accordingly."
Steve Keough, a spokesman for the Canadian Olympic Committee, told the Associated Press, “We condone celebrations. … We don’t condone actions of irresponsibility. I think Canadians understand it’s quite an emotional moment for our team. It was not our intention to go against any IOC protocols.”
“The members of Team Canada apologize if their on-ice celebrations, after fans had left the building, have offended anyone. In the excitement of the moment, the celebration left the confines of our dressing room and shouldn’t have. The team regrets that its gold medal celebration may have caused the IOC or COC any embarrassment.
To be sure, the Canadian women's hockey team should have acted with more class and been a little more discreet with its celebration. But to do something drastic like ban the team from the Closing Ceremony or force them out of the Olympic Village would be an overreaction. In past Olympics we've seen steroids, political boycotts, cheating and judging scandals. A few puffs of a cigar hardly seems to be in the same league.
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