Canadian speed skating coach and Butte resident Michael Crowe is not with his team at the Pyeongchang Olympics after being put on leave Jan. 9.
Speed Skating Canada confirmed there is an internal investigation underway, but the organization declined to divulge details of the situation.
“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,” the organization said in an email to The Montana Standard.
Multiple attempts to reach Crowe by phone, email, and in person have been unsuccessful.
Crowe, 64, had stints at the helm of U.S. speed skating from 1985 to 1991 and 1999 to 2002. He was promoted to team director after the 2002 Olympics, a position he held until after the 2006 Olympics. He began working with Canada speed skating in 2007 and was promoted to head coach in 2015.
After moving to Butte in the early 1980s, Crowe was heavily involved in the U.S. High Altitude Sports Center project and the recruitment of Olympic athletes to Butte.
In reports that surfaced in Canadian media outlets in January, former U.S. speed skaters claimed Crowe had sexual relationships with some of his athletes while the head of the U.S. team in the early 1990s.
Those reports have not been confirmed by Crowe, Canada speed skating, or U.S. speed skating.
On Jan. 21, Global News Canada reported the investigation stems from complaints about Crowe from members of the Canadian speed skating team.
“The decision to put Mr. Crowe on leave was based on recent feedback from our athletes and coaches and it was substantive enough that it called for an independent, comprehensive professional investigation,” Speed Skating Canada CEO Susan Auch said in the report.
Former U.S. speed skater Eva Rodansky, who has been a vocal critic of the U.S. program, said unfair selection criteria left her off the 2006 Olympic team in favor of an athlete she says was having an affair with Crowe. She said the affair was widely known by members of the team after repeated displays of affection between Crowe and the athlete.
Rodansky said that affair dated back to the late 1990s and added that in 2000, team members brought their concerns about the affair to the team psychologist. She said Crowe denied the affair at the time and the issue was dropped until 2002.
Team concerns around the affair resurfaced in 2002 ahead of the Salt Lake City Olympics, Rodansky said. A meeting was held with the U.S. skating board of directors, she says.
Rodansky said the board chose to keep Crowe at the helm of the team through the Olympics then promoted him to team director in order to remove him from direct contact with athletes. Then, after the 2006 Olympics, Rodansky says Crowe was dismissed by the board.
Rodansky said she was contacted on Facebook by Auch in November and asked to tell what she knew about Crowe’s conduct as head coach of the U.S. team.
“I knew right away what I suspected it was about and didn’t find out for sure until we talked,” Rodansky said. “It became clear later on that ... there were substantive allegations from more than one person in Canada (against Crowe).”
Susan Auch did not respond to requests for comment.
An inquiry to the U.S. Olympic Committee about the investigation was referred to Team Canada representatives, who declined further comment.