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    Thursday, February 12, 1998

    Austrian kicked out after beer party

     NAGANO, Japan (AP) -- Snowboarding's already outlaw image took another hit when a Austrian athlete was kicked out of the Olympics after a party at a team hotel damaged a $4,000 switchboard.
     Martin Freinademetz said his Olympic accreditation was pulled after the incident early Tuesday at the Shiga Kogen Prince Hotel, where snowboard athletes and officials are staying.
     "We had a party, we had fun, something got broken," Freinademetz told reporters Thursday.
     "It's not cool, but it happened, and to throw somebody out of the most important sports games doesn't make sense to me," said Freinadmetz, who finished seventh overall in the men's giant slalom on Sunday and was not scheduled to compete in any other events.
     His comments came a day after Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal after testing positive for marijuana.
     Shinsuke Nagasawa, a Nagano organizing committee spokesman, said he was called to the hotel after a party in which about three dozen people, including athletes, were drinking in the lobby.
     A beer can was thrown and spilled onto the computerized switchboard, he said.
     Freinademetz apologized Wednesday and offered to pay for the damages to the switchboard.
     "It happened while he was drunk, and after all he's an Olympic athlete, so we are not thinking of taking any further action," Nagasawa said, adding that Freinademetz was not kicked out of the hotel.
     At least one coffee cup was broken and some white tabletops were marked on with a felt-tip pen, he said.
     The International Olympic Committee said a team decision had been made to return an athlete's credential. An IOC spokeswoman said she did not know the name of the athlete or the circumstances, but added that an Austrian official "apologized to the organizing committee for any inconvenience."
     Freinademetz told reporters he was upset that his credential had been canceled abruptly.
     "It's not right and it's not fair to throw someone out of the village without even talking to them before," he said, noting that he was refused entry to the Main Press Center.
     Freinademetz questioned whether officials were punishing him more severely because he was a snowboarder.
     "Is it against snowboarding or is it against me as a person? I've got a lot of enemies," he said. "On one side they say they want to push snowboarders, but then they push us down."