KAGGE FORLAG (VG) Tarjei Bø, Johannes Thingnes Bø and Emil Hegle Svendsen ended up at the school in front of the press and received heavy fines from the biathlon association after having the air out of Ole Einar Bjørndalen’s car and two other vehicles. The Pokljuka episode caused an ice front between the biathletes and the association.
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This is revealed by Tarjei Bø and Johannes Thingnes Bø in their new book “Brødrekraften” which is now being released.
It was after the Sochi Olympics in 2014 that the trio had to “explode” when the biathlon circus came to Pokljuka and the World Cup final. The three were in a bad mood after bad results, they had no competition the next day and went to the party that usually closes the biathlon season.
After the Athlete and Coach Party in March of that year, they wanted to have more fun. It ended that they drained some air into the cars of his teammate Bjørndalen, Sweden and Austria.
– We chose those we knew best, because we thought they would understand the joke, writes Tarjei Bø in the book written by journalist Lasse Lønnebotn.
Thingnes Bø confronted the association: – I knew there would be problems
By breakfast the next day, Bjørndalen was checking the hotel surveillance cameras in Bled in hopes of finding out who was behind the vandalism. Brothers Bø and Emil Hegle Svendsen laid the cards on the table and the king of biathlon called them “unprofessional”.
– When we heard him say that someone had taken the air out of the tires, we realized that we had to lie down and apologize, Thingnes Bø tells VG during the book launch.
– We made an error in judgment, but that error in judgment was a story that people laughed a bit at. We realized that we had new fans who perhaps liked entertainment more than the best sports. A clever little smile should be allowed around that story, Tarjei Bø tells VG.
The Swedes and Austrians, unlike Bjørndalen, thought it was a fun invention.
– The Swedes just laughed and the Austrians wondered if we were the new helpers in Formula 1. That was the reaction we hoped to get, writes Bø.
– After we apologize, we agreed with the leaders to keep the case internally and leave it behind. But when we returned home to Norway a few days later, something was clearly happening at the Biathlon Association. We soon found out what: we were fined 100,000 crowns each. 100,000 each? For letting air out of some tires?
Tarjei Bø writes in the book that they were told that the association had sent information about the punishment by email. Then it quickly became clear that it was only a matter of time before the press could receive the internal email.
– I was pissed off
– The biathlon association had given us too harsh a reaction, nor did it manage to handle it internally. Now we couldn’t even trust our own union. Then we get pissed off.
None of the leaders or coaches made contact. They put their heads in the sand. There was an ice front between us and the leadership of the association after the Pokljuka episode, are the words that Tarjei Bø uses in the book.
After asking Ingebrigt Steen Jensen’s media for advice, the trio held a press conference in Holmenkollen where they lay down and apologized for what happened.
– We are done with the case. But we were not done with the association. We agreed to be punished for what we had done. But the amount of the fine was completely disproportionate. Still, no one from the union had spoken to us, no phones, no dialogues, nothing. They turned their back on us after all these years that we had delivered gold after gold, and they worked hard to make the national team an attractive sponsor.
Sports director Per-Arne Botnan tells VG that the Pokljuka episode was a case without which one would have preferred to be.
– The union had to react to an unacceptable action. It was not a fine but rather that the association withheld money as a result of undesirable actions and that should not happen again. We put that matter behind quickly and my impression is that the relationship with the athletes, coaches and support staff has been incredibly good in recent years. It also indicates the results we have achieved, says Botnan.
However, he criticizes the fact that the information about the punishment was made public and became an additional burden for Hegle Svendsen and the Bø brothers.
– We provide inside information to our coaches and our board. We will probably never know how that information came out.