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Million-dollar dispute threatens Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin’s run for gold

THE disgruntled parent of an Australian snowboarder has ignited an explosive row only hours before Alex “Chumpy” Pullin races for gold, accusing Olympic officials of spending more than $1 million on the dual world-champion.

And golden girl Torah Bright has also been dragged into the unsavoury dispute over how officials allocate millions of dollars in funding to Australian winter athletes.
Bruce Brockoff, the father of Belle Brockhoff, fired off an angry email last night which threatens to divide the Olympic team on one of its most important days in Sochi.
He said “dozens of Aussies in the know” would be “dancing on the graves’’ of Olympic officials if Pullin “fails to deliver ... either by chance, bad luck or his ability”.
“In my opinion, there is much anger and disgust among the Australian snowboard cross community about the lack of support for Olympic snowboard athletes Scotty James, Jarryd Hughes, Torah Bright and my daughter,’’ he said in an email sent to this reporter last night.
“The Olympic Winter Institute of Australia and Australian Olympic Committee have, it is rumoured, spent at least $1 million on Alex Pullin in the past four years — up to $1.35 million estimated by another concerned and involved dad.
“This far outweighs the $38,000 spent on my daughter Belle and the money spent by the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia and AOC on Scotty James, Jarryd Hughes and Torah Bright.’’
The email blows open a simmering dispute over funding which led to Bright, James, Hughes and Belle Brockhoff describing themselves on Twitter as part of an outsiders’ group called #teamoutcast.
It comes as Pullin, 26, starts favourite today to win Australia’s first gold of the Sochi Olympics in the unpredictable snowboard cross race.
Hughes, an 18-year-old Sydney schoolboy who has been ensnared in the row, is also a medal contender, while Cam Bolton, of Melbourne, is the third Australian in the race.
Mr Brockhoff said he was speaking out to “to explain why I sold my tickets to Sochi and cancelled my accommodation on a Norwegian cruise liner in protest over the lack of support and recognition for my daughter Belle”.
“This is only the beginning of the very sad story,’’ he wrote.
In a series of allegations, Mr Brockhoff also claimed:
* Pullin and Bolton had access to a specially designed snowboard cross course on the same mountain #teamoutcast members were training on recently at Pitztal in Austria, but the #teamoutcast members were only invited to try out the course on the last two days of training.
* #teamoutcast members were told to go away three times when they needed physiotherapy because Bulgarian athlete, Alexandra Jekova, the daughter of Pullin’s “wax technician”, was being treated.
Mr Brockhoff, whose daughter finished eighth in the snowboard cross yesterday, is a self-described Olympic fanatic who has attended three Games going back to Melbourne in 1956.
He said he represented and competed for Australia in nine international gliding events and was Convener of the Rules Making Committee of the Gliding Federation of Australia for more than 10 years.
Belle Brockhoff’s uncle, Peter Brockhoff, competed in Alpine Skiing at the 1960 and 1964 Winter Olympics, while her grandfather, Harold Brockhoff, was one of the pioneers of Victorian snow resort Mt Buller.
On Saturday, Hughes gave a glimpse into divisions among Australia’s snowboarders by refusing to comment when asked whether he had learnt anything from being in a team with Pullin, who is one of the world’s most experienced and capable snowboarders.
His father, Darren Hughes, later released a statement on behalf of his son, saying all Australian athletes “have the same level of support and all have the same opportunity to do their best on the world stage”.
“The opportunity the AOC has created with the Australian team environment has been fantastic,’’ the statement said.
Tensions have simmered under the surface since the days leading up to the Olympics when James spoke out about funding.
James, who did not progress past qualifying stages in the half-pipe and snowboard slopestyle events in Sochi, had claimed it was “safe to say I have had no funding from the government”.
“We’re not part of a team and we are not helped along the way in our journey to the Games or any other events,” he said.
That claim was debunked by incensed Olympics officials, who detailed extensive payments to the athletes.
AOC media director Mike Tancred said James declined a scholarship offer by the Winter Institute but holds a taxpayer-funded scholarship from the Victorian Institute of Sport.
He said Bright also declined a Winter Institute scholarship, while Brockhoff and Hughes were holders of taxpayer-funded scholarships from the NSW Institute of Sport.
He said Bright had been given $25,000 in medal incentive payments from the AOC in the past four years, as well as another $29,000 from a “Olympic Solidarity” fund.
He said she also received more than $22,000 in “support” to cover a New Zealand training camp in October and accommodation on the World Cup tour, while James received more than $7,000 in “support” and Brockhoff was given $18,000 to cover “personal expenses”.
Mr Tancred said the winter institute also funded the cost of physiotherapy and medical support at all World Cup events and a number of training camps for the athletes.
The AOC has funded the current Australian Olympic Team to the tune of $10 million. It also provides $1 million a year to the winter institute, while the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport are providing another $2 million a year.
He said the AOC had provided an extra $900,000 to Australian Winter athletes in the form of international competition grants and $215,000 in medal incentive funding.
“The NSW Institute of Sport snowboard cross program for Belle Brockhoff and Jarryd Hughes is very extensive,’’ he said.
“NSWIS funds directly a separate coach for each athlete, wax tech support including NSWIS purchasing wax, accommodation at all competitions and all domestic training camps.’’
The AOC have refused to comment on the claims until after Pullin has raced in Sochi.
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Yeah, apparently divisions have been festering. Seems to be a bit of resentment at Chumpy getting the star treatment. I think it was Alyssa Camplin on Ten last night who said it boiled down to a split between training camps. Who knows? I guess Brockhoff's Dad feels aggrieved for whatever reason and had to get it out there, but the timing can only be to try and sabotage and cause trouble - and the figures he spouts seem nonsense and don't help his case. Bit pissed at that.

Hope Chumpy just zones out of it for the next day. Then let them have it at each other after the games.

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