A Curling Shocker – Top Controversies in Curling
Even though curling is known to be a very gentle sport, it has had its fair share of scandals and controversies. Just like in any other sport the competition is fierce. That can drive athletes to take illegal measures for ensuring the victory of their team. Here are some of the scandals in the sport.
- In the 2010 Paralympics the Swedish wheelchair team, one of the top contenders for a medal, faced lousy news before their semifinal match. Glen Ikonen, vice skip of the Swedish team, had been tested positive for a banned beta blocker before the game and was suspended for the last two games of the tournament. He defended himself by stating that the results were caused by prescription drugs he got from his doctor and that he didn’t know that they were banned.
- Two years later the Canadian Hall of Famer, Jim Armstrong, was tested positive for tamoxifen. The prescription drug is used in breast cancer treatment but taken with PEDs it can cancel out hormonal effects caused by steroid use. Although he stated that he took the breast cancer medication accidentally, doubts remained. Two years earlier he had been involved in a case of smuggling erectile dysfunction pills where he pleaded guilty. He was suspended from wheelchair curling for 18 months.
- Another doping scandal rocked the curling world in 2018. Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii had to return his bronze medal he won in Pyeongchang after he was found guilty of using doping and was banned for four years. He tested positive for meldonium. His wife and Teammate Anastasia Bryzgalov also had to return her bronze medal although she did not test positive for doping.
During the 2009 Olympic Trials in Canada, Ben Herbert was seen to vertically lift his broom, which is an illegal move in curling since it can dump debris from the brush in front of the rock and slow it down. The move immediately was caught by opposing teams Richard Hart. He also felt that Herbert could have intended the move since it was the 9th end of the final round.
In every sport, the equipment is vital to the game. And although one might not expect it, even brooms can be optimized. Broom Gate refers to a controversy in curling where newly invented high-tech brooms were seen by many as a danger to the fundamentals of the sport. The ice Pad Broom from the company Hardline had sparked this controversy because curlers felt it altered the core aspect of their game. In curling, the skip is responsible for placing the stone with his ability to throw it accurately. The instructions of the skip guide the sweepers and alter its speed, having only little effect on the direction of the stone. But with the ice Pad sweepers had gained so much control over the stone that they could steer it at will. Teams using this brooms had an unfair advantage over their competition. The controversy has been solved at the curling technology summit in 2016. The summit decided that all professional curlers must use standard broom head fabrics to ensure competitiveness is assured.