Johannes Thingnes Bø (28) claims in a new book that he was treated badly by the biathlon association when Red Bull entered the field and tempted millions to sponsor the biathlete.
Aftenposten collaborates with VG-sporten. Therefore, as a reader of Aftenposten, you also get articles and services created by VG.
– It’s the best offer I’ve ever received. But I knew there would be problems, Thingnes Bø describes in the book “Brødrekraften” that journalist Lasse Lønnebotn has written for Kagge Forlag. Here Thingnes Bø and his brother Tarjei Bø tell their story.
Red Bull entered the field in winter 2018. Thingnes Bø stabbed Martin Fourcade over the overall World Cup winner and the Olympics were just around the corner.
In the book, Thingnes Bø says that he requested a meeting with the marketing department of the biathlon association for clarification. It is usually a formality.
– But Red Bull was controversial, I knew it. Northug’s deal with the same company had caused a lot of problems, and mountaineer Henrik Kristoffersen was in the middle of a conflict with the ski association because he was not allowed to wear the Red Bull name on his helmet.
Ville yes and
When Thingnes Bø informed the association that he had decided to accept the offer, he was warned.
– The association understood that it was a tempting opportunity for a young athlete, but said that Red Bull would not be well received among the biathlon association sponsors, companies that have been loyal to the association for many years. The directive of the biathlon federation was not positive either.
Johannes Thingnes Bø claims that he was not included in the discussions until the conclusion was ready.
– There was strong opposition from the federal leadership and its partners to my reaching a personal agreement with Red Bull. I felt squeezed into a corner. If I said no to Red Bull, I would lose the opportunity to secure myself financially for many years. And if I said yes, the national team would lose huge revenue. I offered to participate for free in the advertising campaigns of the sponsors, but it did not help. It seemed as if the union had decided. All my arguments bounced.
The 28-year-old says he could have said yes “and no one could have stopped me.”
– But it would have consequences. It would cause trouble and they could label me as selfish and greedy.
Although various media outlets were aware of the offer, Thingnes Bø chose to keep his mouth shut.
– I also kept the case away from the media, despite the fact that many journalists called and knew about the offer. It could have been a good media case, but I didn’t say a word. He knew very well what he wanted. In the end, I had to make a decision and it came down to this: Should I put myself in front of the community? When I realized that that was the most relevant question, I knew I had to say no to Red Bull. But I made a clear demand of the association: I wanted to be treated better in the future. I lost a lot of money from the rejection and wanted a similar deal. The association accepted and we avoided an ice front. But he wasn’t sure if they would actually deliver on what they promised.
In May of this year, as is known, Thingnes Bø signed a lucrative five-year agreement with YX Norway, which, as far as VG knows, insures five million a year, for the rest of his career.
That deal was approved by the biathlon association.