Vanoc leaked documents requested by CBC to competitors

The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics (Vanoc), aware that the CBC was investigating the death of an Olympian luger, leaked documents to competitors The Globe and Mail and CTV.

The Vancouver Sun reports that CBC had requested the documents under Freedom of Information from the B.C. Coroner’s Service, which was investigating the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died after his sled hit a steel pole on the Games’ opening day. The CBC’s story, which was published on Sunday, focuses on documents that suggest Vanoc knew the track was dangerous before the fatal crash.

The documents included an internal e-mail from Vanoc CEO John Furlong “in which he expressed concern about a letter Josef Fendt, the president of the International Luge Federation, who worried about the excessive speeds on the Whistler track,” the Sun reports.

In the e-mail, Furlong told staff:

“So after my usual seven second delay on this – While I am inclined to ignore this as not our deal – embedded in this note (cryptic as it may be) is a warning that the track is, in their view, too fast and someone could get badly hurt. An athlete gets badly injured or worse, and I think the case could be made that we were warned and did nothing. That said, I’m not sure where the way out is on this. Our legal guys should review at least.”

The CBC’s investigation into this and other documents spurred Vanoc to go on the offense and alert other media in order to dampen the effect of the story.

The Sun reports that “A confidential internal memo Smith-Valade wrote to Vanoc’s board of directors on Sunday and obtained by The Vancouver Sun indicates the corporation decided to leak the documents to selected news media that Vanoc believed would give ‘a more balanced view in the public eye and protect Vanoc’s reputation.'”

The Sun reprinted a memo from Vanoc communications head Rene Smith-Valade, who wrote that “The CBC has purposely not been advised of these actions by Vanoc. Please treat this information as confidential. While there are no guarantees the strategy of taking an offensive media public position on the integrity of Vanoc vis-a-vis the WSC, it will hopefully provide a more balanced view in the public eye and protect Vanoc’s reputation.”