Elana Meyers Taylor

Elana Meyers Taylor
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Elana Meyers Taylor’s claims of racism in bobsled being investigated

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Bobsled’s international federation is investigating triple Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor‘s claims of racism in the sport.

Meyers Taylor, a medalist for the U.S. at the last three Winter Olympics, wrote in a first-person TeamUSA.org story that a coach from another country “was recorded saying several racist statements” and that her name “was drug through the mud.”

“The basic premise was that there were no good black drivers and that black athletes needed to stay in the back of the sled as they simply lacked the mental capacity to drive,” wrote Meyers Taylor, a brakewoman at her first Olympics and a driver at the last two. “Furthermore, the coach felt the need to specifically bring up my name several times, and this after I had won an Olympic medal and two world championships as a pilot, and even earned a spot on the US Men’s team as a 4-man pilot.”

The coach no longer works for that federation and, Meyers Taylor believes, hasn’t been rehired elsewhere in the sport. She did not name the coach or the federation. She stood by her statements in a Tuesday phone interview.

Meyers Taylor also wrote that a manufacturer of one of the fastest sleds on tour “refuses to sell to black pilots” and has been quoted saying, “If I wanted to see a monkey drive a sled, I’d go to the zoo.”

“It doesn’t matter how fast he’s able to make a sled, I’d give up a gold medal before driving a sled made by him,” Meyers Taylor wrote. “And yet there currently sits one of these sleds in the Team USA garage, serving as a constant reminder to me where people who look like me stand in this sport.”

A USA Bobsled and Skeleton (USABS) spokesperson confirmed the sled is in a Team USA garage and owned by an athlete, not the federation.

“We spoke with Elana about the situation, and she does not recommend that we remove the sled from the garage,” the spokesperson said. “The athlete who owns the sled was not aware of the alleged situation with the manufacturer, and its presence does not have ill intentions.

“I also want to reiterate that USABS condemns all forms of racism and discrimination, and we take this very seriously.”

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) said it made immediate contact with Meyers Taylor and created a task force to investigate.

Meyers Taylor confirmed that the U.S. and international bobsled federations communicated with her. She is satisfied that both are taking her concerns seriously, noting the task force is a great first step. She is pushing the IBSF to create programs that allow minority athletes opportunities for success without obstacles.

“The biggest thing is to really look at the sport of bobsled, and all sports, and try and analyze where is racism and where it can be improved to prevent people with racist ideas and racial biases from having as much power as they do,” she said. “Racism occurs to all different types of people. Sport isn’t immune.”

Meyers Taylor, who sat out last season due to pregnancy, plans to compete next season, bringing 4-month-old son Nico with her on tour.

MORE: U.S. Olympic bobsledder dies at 43

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Elana Meyers Taylor is pregnant, to miss bobsled season

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Elana Meyers Taylor, a triple Olympic bobsled medalist, is due to have her first child in March and will miss this bobsled season.

“It was always my dream to win two gold medals in the 2022 Olympics and place them around the neck of our child,” Meyers Taylor said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “When we were told by doctors that this might not be possible, I put all my efforts into winning two gold medals in 2022. However, they were wrong, and now I have the chance to live this dream. We are excited for our little miracle.”

Meyers Taylor and husband Nic Taylor, a veteran U.S. bobsledder, were married in April 2014 after meeting through the sport in 2011. They have competed together in international four-person bobsled races with Meyers Taylor driving.

Meyers Taylor earned Olympic bronze as a push athlete in 2010, then silver medals as a driver in 2014 and 2018. She also earned world titles in 2015 and 2017.

Meyers Taylor’s longtime Canadian rival, Kaillie Humphries, could also miss the season as she bids to switch representation to the U.S. A Canadian judge ruled against her on Tuesday, though U.S. Bobsled has said it would welcome her should she be released from Bobsleigh Canada.

German Mariama Jamanka, the surprise PyeongChang Olympic gold medalist, has taken over as the world’s top driver, winning last season’s World Cup and world championship titles.

The World Cup season starts in late November.

MORE: Kaillie Humphries loses bid to bobsled for U.S.

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USA Bobsled and Skeleton dismisses longtime CEO Darrin Steele

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USA Bobsled and Skeleton has fired CEO Darrin Steele, who oversaw teams that won nine Olympic medals and 12 world championship medals.

Steele will remain in place for about another month. The federation’s board of directors did not cite a specific reason for the change. Athletes were told in a conference call Tuesday night, and John Rosen will assume the CEO role on an interim basis until a permanent hire is made.

“This was a very difficult decision,” USABS board chair Bob Bergbauer said. “We are grateful for Darrin’s guidance, but the board feels it’s time for a fresh perspective as we head into the future.”

The news comes less than two months before the federation begins work for the coming season.

“Darrin did a great job and I’ll always appreciate everything he ever did for us,” USA Bobsled coach Mike Kohn said after the news was announced. “The thing about Darrin that a lot of people don’t understand is there’s a lot that goes on that people never know about, high-level things that take place that pave the way for people to be successful. That’s the thing Darrin was great about and great about helping me with.”

Steele was a two-time Olympic athlete in bobsled, and then took over as CEO in 2007. The U.S. sled driven by Steven Holcomb won four-man gold in Vancouver three years later, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in bobsled’s signature race. Holcomb drove to two more medals at the Sochi Games in 2014, and U.S. women’s drivers Erin Pac, Elana Meyers Taylor (twice) and Jamie Greubel Poser all guided sleds to Olympic medals during Steele’s tenure as well. Noelle Pikus-Pace and Matt Antoine won Olympic skeleton medals, and for much of Steele’s tenure the federation enjoyed constant success.

But the last two years have been filled with one issue after another. Holcomb died in 2017, sending shock waves through the team and the entire federation. The bobsled and skeleton teams managed just one medal at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, and last year’s World Cup season landed only eight medals — seven earned by the driving of Meyers Taylor, and the other a bronze in women’s skeleton by Kendall Wesenberg.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the past 12 years with USABS,” Steele said in a statement released by the federation. “I’ve been able to work with some amazing people and shared some incredible moments that I’ll never forget. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and I wish the organization well as the baton is passed to the next federation leader.”

Steele is also a vice president for the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation, the sport’s governing body. He will remain in that role.

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