Bode Miller, FIS tangle again after equipment check demand


Bode Miller, FIS tangle again after equipment check demand{mosimage}The International Ski Federation sanctioned reigning overall World Cup champion Bode Miller today for refusing to submit to a routine equipment test at the World Cup slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.

‘The jury decided to have a fine of 999 Swiss francs’ said Guenter Hujara, the FIS race director and a member of the jury. ‘It’s nothing serious, but Bode makes a story out of it, I heard already.’

Miller was quoted in media reports saying that if the fine were not lifted, he would quit the tour, but Miller now says that comment was private and was not intended for the media. Asked whether he would attend the next World Cup in Bormio, Dec. 29, however, Miller was noncommittal.

‘I obviously want to race, and I like racing, but I’m promoting FIS, and I’m their poster boy’ Miller told Ski Racing. ‘I’m getting them ratings and doing all these things, and I don’t want to do that for an organization treating its athletes that way.’

Miller is an expert at deconstructing FIS rules, teasing out their inherent contradictions. He gets especially upset when he feels an infraction has a disproportionate penalty.

‘If you look at the rules, they make no sense’ he said. Unintentional infractions carry a disqualification, he said, but ‘if they think you were trying to sneak something into your sock, the worst thing they can do is DQ you.’

Miller likened FIS sanctions to being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, passing a sobriety test, and getting charged with speeding as a default gesture.

Miller has threatened to quit the World Cup before, and has suggested joining or even starting his own rival circuit.

Thursday’s incident occurred after Miller completed the first run of the slalom. Mike Kertesz, the FIS official in charge of equipment control, asked to measure Miller’s boots, and Miller refused, arguing that he wasn’t going to qualify for the second run of the race anyway.

Kertesz said he informed Marc Habermann, the U.S. Ski Team media representive who accompanies Miller in the finish area, that Miller needed to have his boots checked, and that Habermann transmitted Miller’s refusal.

“At the time Bode was obviously emotional from a not-so-good run,” said Kertesz.

‘It’s normal procedure, and he refused, because he wasn’t in the 30′ said Phil McNichol, head men’s coach of the U.S. Ski Team. ‘It was a common sense thing to him…the jury fined him for his behaivior, is how it was described to me.’

The New Hampshire native has a history of pushing back against the FIS, and has tangled with sport authorities over drug testing, equipment controls and the requirement that he appear for nightly bib-presentation ceremonies.

McNichol was frustrated that the issue had come up. ‘I don’t need the headache’ he said. ‘If I need to fight for my athletes, I will, but this is between Bode and the FIS.’

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