Athletes have called for resignations in an open letter slamming a "toxic" culture within Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton ©Getty Images

More than 60 current and former athletes have called on Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS) leaders including President Sarah Storey to resign, citing culture and governance failures.

The letter alleges that there is a "toxic" culture within BCS, "safety of athletes is not a primary concern", best practices and athlete feedback are disregarded when it comes to governance issues and that the organisation lacks transparency.

The identities of those who signed have not been published, but organisers say more than 60 athletes who have competed under the BCS banner since 2014 have put their names on the letter.

It has been published three years after Kaillie Humphries switched allegiance from Canada to the United States, following complaints of harassment. 

Humphries called for Storey and high-performance director Chris Le Bihan to lose their jobs, claiming they did not act when the athlete reported verbal and mental abuse she alleges to have suffered at the hands of head coach Todd Hays.

All three remain in their roles, but the resignations of Storey and Le Bihan have been called for once more in the open letter.

Humphries, who won monobob gold for the US at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, won an appeal at the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada last July to have her allegations investigated again, after it was found the original investigation ordered by BCS was not thorough, fair or reasonable.

Kaillie Humphries switched allegiance from Canada to the United States after complaining of harassment and abuse at the hands of a coach ©Getty Images
Kaillie Humphries switched allegiance from Canada to the United States after complaining of harassment and abuse at the hands of a coach ©Getty Images

"In the two quadrennials leading up to the 2022 Olympics, systemic issues within BCS have adversely impacted both the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton and have become increasingly problematic over time", reads the letter.

"Too many athletes have suffered physically, mentally, emotionally and financially due to the organisation's failure to address these issues, jeopardising the future of both sports."

It goes on to claim that the BCS "leadership style feels authoritarian, and fear of retaliation silences athletes and prevents them from bringing forward any questions or concerns."

This "negative culture" has largely "created a significant divide affecting successful working relationships and performance", is the verdict. 

Safety fears are raised, with a decision not to send a skeleton coach to a Beijing 2022 test event at the new Yanqing National Sliding Centre highlighted as an instance where "athlete safety has been disregarded."

Those who signed the letter also claim there is a "significant absence of transparency and timely communication" within BCS, "which has created an environment of deep mistrust."

As for governance, it is claimed that BCS policies reinforce biases, "rely heavily on coach or administration discretion" and are too complicated.

Athletes have tried to raise some of these issues with BCS "and through external avenues in the Canadian sport system" but to no avail, according to the letter.

"What is most troubling is that BCS has shown a total inability or unwillingness to meaningfully address many of these issues and work towards a solution", it adds.

The letter, addressed to the BCS Board of Directors, calls on the panel to "support us in our collective efforts to make meaningful change in order to create a brighter future for all Canadian bobsleigh and skeleton athletes." 

BCS has finally responded to the letter and said that it will review and address the concerns raised by athletes. 

"We have been made aware of the letter that has been circulated and we appreciate the athletes bringing their concerns forward to Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s Board of Directors," BCS told insidethegames.  

"We take the concerns of our athletes seriously.

"As we do at the completion of every Olympic quadrennial, we plan to meet with our athlete community directly as soon as possible to review and address their concerns.

"The process of scheduling meetings has already begun with our national skeleton program."

Canada won two bobsleigh bronze medals at Beijing 2022, via Christine de Bruin in the women's monobob and Justin Kripps' four-man sled.

Humphries meanwhile became the first athlete to have won Olympic gold medals for both the US and Canada.

"This is the exact same leadership I dealt with and had to leave to escape it," Humphries said in response to the letter.

"Proud they are standing up and telling their truths."