Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/4/2016 (1442 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Former Olympic archer Jay Lyon’s bid to make the Rio Olympics is in turmoil, after a pair of recent disputes saw him barred from a local tournament and nearly booted from the national team.
Now, the spillover has even resulted in one Manitoban archery club electing to temporarily close its doors, after Lyon alleged he was unfairly banned from a competition on its premises last weekend.
According to a dispute filed with the Archers and Bowhunters Association of Manitoba, Lyon showed up for the Archery Canada-sanctioned shoot at the Interlake Archers club in Argyle on Sunday, but was told by ABAM officials that he was "not welcome on the property," and thus unable to compete.
In a formal complaint prepared by Lyon’s Ontario-based lawyer, Emir Crowne, the archer claims the decision violated an ABAM policy that sanctioned events must be open to all ABAM, Archery Canada and World Archery members. He also alleges "a reasonable apprehension of bias (if not actual bias)" by organizers who have been involved in past disputes between Lyon and Archery Canada.
Lyon is seeking reimbursement for gas and mileage costs, a letter of apology from ABAM president Walter Potrebka and secretary Robert Tataryn, disciplinary action on both and a ruling that Interlake Archers should either find a new venue or lose its club status, if it continues to host events where members would be disallowed from competing.
On Tuesday, ABAM confirmed to the Free Press that it had received Lyon’s complaint, and noted that "the incident is now under investigation by an internal ad hoc committee to determine if any ABAM policies have been breached."
Meanwhile, Interlake Archers announced on Facebook on Monday night that it was postponing all events at the club "until such time as this issue is resolved." Although the statement by club representative Ed Wilson did not mention Lyon by name, it noted that Interlake Archers had been contacted by "legal representatives demanding that we make exception to our values."
"Our club has a strong belief that everyone is welcome, so long as their behaviour in the sport represents the best interest of all, is respectful of our club, and is respectful of the members who have founded our club and allow its continued presence on their property," Wilson wrote.
"We regret that we have been forced to take this action, but we will not continue to facilitate events under the threat of litigation. The best situation for our club’s volunteers is to move forward without these issues."
A representative for Lyon clarified there is no litigation pending against Interlake Archers outside of the dispute with ABAM.
This isn’t the first time the 29-year-old archer has clashed with sport authorities. Last year, he made national headlines for sharply criticizing Archery Canada’s decision to pick a younger female shooter over 42-year-old Kateri Vrakking for the Pan Am Games team, a decision that was later reversed.
Vrakking, a decorated archer, believed she was discriminated against due to her age, a charge Archery Canada called "false and unfounded." Lyon was made to issue a formal apology for his Facebook comments in that case, and went on to compete in Toronto where he earned a bronze medal.
And just last month, Archery Canada took Lyon to an arbitration hearing at the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, seeking to revoke his national team status and funding for what it argued were repeated breaches of its conduct and training policies.
Among the incidents at issue were a number of critical comments Lyon made about Archery Canada, including a January email where he suggested the organization would take archers from the "in crowd" to the Olympics instead of the best archers, as well as his failure to adhere to a stated training plan.
On March 30, arbitrator Allan J. Stitt agreed that Lyon breached Archery Canada’s conduct and training policies and athlete agreement, but ultimately decided that rescinding Lyon’s national team status and funding would be "too extreme" a punishment.
Instead, Stitt ordered Lyon to write another apology to Archery Canada, and cited communication problems on both sides. "It is clear to me that, unfortunately, each of the parties sees the other in a bad light," Stitt wrote. "In my view, both sides are acting with partisan perceptions and assuming bad motives by the other side that often do not, in my view, exist."
Lyon has since written the apology. On Tuesday, Archery Canada executive director Scott Ogilvie confirmed that the apology had been received and accepted, and that the case was now closed from the organization’s end.
"We are working with Mr. Lyon and his personal coach," Ogilvie said, noting that included Archery Canada’s high performance manager. "I think things are moving forward in a very positive manner. Mr. Lyon continues to be striving to prepare himself for upcoming World Cups, in which we will attempt to earn a quota spot for the Olympic Games."
Currently, Canada has clinched one archery berth in Rio, for a male shooter. But it could secure another at a World Cup event in Turkey in June. Lyon, who competed for Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished 10th overall – the best-ever finish by a Canadian shooter -- is one of four athletes being considered for three spots at that event.
So the latest dust-up in Manitoba could complicate that path forward. In the wake of the arbitrator's decision in the Archery Canada claim last month, Lyon agreed to follow an approved 2016 training plan that includes competing in regional events. Now, his lawyer is concerned that missing the Argyle event could constitute a roadblock in that plan.
"It is truly unfortunate that Mr. Lyon continues to be treated poorly by certain members of the archery community," Crowne said in a statement to the Free Press. "He is a gifted athlete and I am hopeful that personal issues can indeed be set aside, especially in an Olympic year. He needs to remain focused and be given the fullest of opportunities to compete, at all levels."
Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 11:48 PM CDT: Tweaks headline.