SEARCH 2000 Games

Friday, December 10, 1999
PROFILE: Genevieve Jeanson
Dispute mired in spin cycle

By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

Punch online to the Canadian Cycling Association Web site and you're greeted with a picture of a smiling Genevieve Jeanson, biting on one of her gold medals from the 1999 world junior cycling championships.

It's a happy but deceiving image.

In reality, the relationship between Jeanson, the best prospect to hit Canadian cycling in decades, and the CCA, is anything but wonderful. In fact, it's not even workable. Actually, it's ugly. And with the Olympics less than a year away, it promises to get worse.

The problem? Jeanson will have absolutely nothing to do with the CCA or the national team and, according to Pierre Hutsebaut, the CCA director of national training programs, wants an automatic bye on to the Olympic squad based on her unprecedented two gold medals at the world championships for road racers in Italy last October.

Hutsebaut said the Lachine, Que., native, the first Canadian to win a world cycling title at the road worlds in any event, refuses to take part in the Canadian Olympic selection process, which began in July 1998.

"Could you imagine, if Genevieve was pre-selected on to the team and Linda Jackson and Clara Hughes (senior world and Olympic medallists), after going through the process, were left off?" Hutsebaut said. "There would be lawsuits."

What's more, Hutsebaut said Jeanson, 18, has declined taking part in national-team competitions or training programs and refused an invitation to attend the recent CCA gala in Victoria, where she was named performer of the year. At the world juniors, she wouldn't stay in the same hotel as the team (paid by the CCA). The CCA understandably is frustrated with the situation and Hutsebaut blames Jeanson's "entourage" for the problem.

"She's very young, and people are taking advantage of that," he said. "They won't even talk to us."

Hutsebaut also is angry with the French-language media in Quebec, accusing a number of outlets of fanning the flames of misunderstanding and hysteria.

"It's the same old thing, the 'Quebec against the federation' stuff," he said. "With them, there always has to be a victim."

The longtime cycling official was particularly incensed with an item last fall suggesting that Jeanson is misunderstood and not treated properly by the federation because there is an anti-French bias at CCA headquarters in Ottawa.

"Supposedly everything at the federation is English and nobody speaks French," said Hutsebaut, whose first language is French. "I can tell you that five of the six people in our office are francophones. As well, the national-team coach and the developmental coach live in Quebec. It's all bull."

Hutsebaut hopes a compromise can be reached and, through the Quebec cycling federation, has asked the cyclist and her people for a meeting. For the athlete's sake, he said a solution has to be found or Jeanson will be left off future teams and her talent will go to waste.

There is a history of Quebec athletes feuding with national federations over various issues including language and personal coaches. But in most cases, such as biathlete Myriam Bedard and skier Melanie Turgeon, a compromise was worked out. Hutsebaut said he wants to see Jeanson make the Olympic team. The cash-strapped CCA could use a dynamic, good-looking, young superstar.

But when nobody talks, common sense walks.

Calls to the Jeanson residence and to her coach, Andre Aubut, were not returned last night.
Genevieve Jeanson in the news
Jeanson's coach blows off a little steam
Canadians bicker after failing
Jeanson a dark horse in the medal race
Jeanson in pictures
11th in Sydney
RONA sponsorship
In profile
A real Tiger