Speed Skating Canada investigating as coach takes leave of absence

Speed Skating Canada investigating as coach takes leave of absence

A day after confirming head coach Michael Crowe has taken a leave of absence from the team less than a month before the Olympics, Speed Skating Canada says it is conducting an investigation.

The organization, which has not given a reason for the leave of absence, told CBC Sports via email on Tuesday that "Michael Crowe is currently on leave from his position as head coach until at least after the Olympic Games. Speed Skating Canada has launched an internal investigation and there is currently a process in place." 

Speed Skating Canada did not provide details on the investigation.

Members of the team were notified of Crowe's leave of absence on Jan. 10, the same day the organization named the nine women and 10 men who will represent Canada at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which open Feb. 9.

"We are confident we have the leadership necessary to allow the athletes to perform at their best in Pyeongchang next month," Speed Skating Canada said in its email Tuesday. "Our team is focused with the goal of producing great results at the Games."

Speed Skating Canada added their "plan is not to introduce a new person into this position, but to work internally on a plan utilizing our current team."

Crowe, who is originally from Butte, Mont., has been with the Canadian long track speed skating program since 2007. In 2015, he was appointed head coach — a new position created to oversee the entire program.

Crowe, 64, began his speed skating career as an athlete in 1974. In 1983 he joined the United States team's coaching staff, where he remained until 1991. He rejoined the program from 1999 until 2002, going to three Olympic Games as a coach for the Americans. In 2002 in Salt Lake City, he was part of the staff that guided the U.S. speed skating team to eight medals — its largest haul at a single Olympics.

Crowe joined the Canadian team in 2007 and attended the 2010 and 2014 Olympics as a coach. 

He was named coach of the year in the U.S. twice, in 1988 and 2002, and was Canada's coach of the year in 2010.