Ice Hockey: No room for room-trashers

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The Independent Online
THE men's ice hockey team will not go with the rest of the United States' Winter Olympic athletes to the traditional White House reception later this month because of the trashing of some players' rooms in Nagano.

"We do not think it appropriate that the hockey team be invited to the White House because it would detract from the truly great achievements which occurred by various athletes in Nagano," the United States Olympic Committee president, Bill Hybl, said on Thursday.

The US Olympic team is to attend a White House reception on 28 April. Hybl and the USOC executive director, Dick Schultz, would not rule out further action against the ice hockey team. "We do not consider the hockey incident closed," Hybl said.

Some USOC members are pushing for a ban on the ice hockey players from further Olympic competition. "I wouldn't predict what else there would be but I don't think you're going to see much action until maybe after the NHL [National Hockey League] season is over," Schultz said.

The USOC turned the case over to Hybl and Schultz in a conference call two weeks ago.

"USA Hockey has been involved in our discussions so this should be a surprise to no one," Hybl said.

The announcement came as USOC members gathered for a weekend meeting, their first since the Winter Olympics. The subject is certain to be a focus of attention at the meeting.

For the first time, the U.S. ice hockey team included members of the NHL. The team's failure to win a medal was a disappointment, and the room trashing following the US last defeat, to the Czech Republic, was a major embarrassment to US Olympic officials.

The USOC has been especially upset that the players involved have not identified themselves. "Our goal is for the two or three players involved to step up and acknowledge what has happened," Hybl said.

The US team captain, Chris Chelios has sent an apology and a $3,000 (pounds 1,800) cheque to Japanese Olympic officials for the damage his team-mates did to their rooms.

Hybl called Chelios' action "a fine gesture, but the matter is not closed."