– I’ve tried to put it behind me, but it’s been a bad thought that’s been there and soured a little. It’s nice to push it out of your head now, and really put 100 percent focus on the sport and not have it hanging over you, says Sturla Holm Lægreid to NRK.
It is an independent investigation carried out by the BIU (Biathlon Integrity Unit) which has arrived at an additional penalty after the dangerous shot the Norwegian biathlete fired inside the athletes’ hotel during the World Cup in Lenzerheide in December.
He was informed of the penalty from BIU on the Monday after the World Cup weekend in Anterselva. It is as follows: a fine of 500 Euro, a scant 6,000 Norwegian kroner, reprimand and a mandatory course in weapon handling.
– It was fine and as expected really. I am satisfied that there is nothing more strict. A fine and ammunition handling course I feel was an appropriate punishment, says Lægreid, who is at the WC gathering together with the rest of the national team before leaving for Nove Mesto.
Joking with Instagram photo
On Thursday, he posted a photo on Instagram of himself in a bar making pizza. On his back he had the horn.
“Do I miss being the best shooter? Why do you ask?” he wrote.
And was quickly answered by teammate Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen:
“Put down that stock exchange indoors you…”.
– Did you think the thought Vetle thought? asks NRK.
– No, I didn’t think so. I’ve got an alarm clock, says Lægreid and continues:
– I have been walking a lot with the stock exchange on my back in the apartment at home in the last few days. It was just by chance that the lady took a picture of me while I was making pizza shirtless. I thought it was kind of funny to post it.
To ensure that it never happens again, he has crushed some old magazines and taken out the insides. They can be used for dry training, knowing that there can be no shots inside them
– It was my mother who tipped me off. She probably thought it was a good idea to destroy some magazines, says Lægreid.
Course for the entire national team
But it is not only Lægreid who is punished after the dangerous shot. The rest of Norway’s national team is also required to take a course in ammunition handling.
– I think it’s good for everyone to get a refresher on this. You benefit from a course like that, regardless of whether you have shot a dangerous shot or not, says Lægreid, who was not aware that his teammates also had to attend a course until he informed NRK about it.
In addition, the biathlon association has been fined 2,500 euros, around NOK 28,500.
– We end up taking that judgment into account. Even if we do not agree with the background for it, the way forward is perhaps much worse in terms of how it could end, says national team manager Per Arne Botnan.
The Biathlon Union could appeal the case further to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but has therefore chosen to accept the penalty.
However, Botnan believes that Norway is among the best at safety routines around weapons in the first place.
– What we are reacting to in the case is whether this is a type of case that BIU should deal with, and what is the preventive effect on this of a nation being punished, says Botnan.
– BIU has a document that says something about what they have to work with. What they accuse us of is that we warn too late. They take us to the point that if a serious incident occurs, it must be reported immediately to BIU, says Botnan.
Head of BIU Greg McKenna says it is important to alert quickly about breaches of safety rules.
– These measures emphasize the importance of a protective environment where athletes, coaches and support staff can work with confidence and security. We thank Lægreid and the Norwegian Biathlon Union for their full willingness to cooperate throughout the investigation, he says to NRK.
– Did you fear something worse, Lægreid?
– Of course. You always think of the worst possible outcome. I have never come across anything like this before. I know of an earlier incident many years ago, which was a shooting at a hotel, he says.
– Then the penalty also became a refusal to start, but that was before BIU was established. I was a bit excited about how they would handle that case here, but the fact that they are punishing it with a similar framework seems positive to me, says Lægreid further.
Acted on mum’s advice
Earlier this week, Lægreid posted a photo on Instagram of him holding the stock market inside the apartment. However, he is clear that he has now taken action.
– I’ve got an alarm clock. It has been a thought now that I have my own magazines which I destroy and take out the contents, so I know that there can be no shots inside and I can use it for dry training, says Lægreid.
It was a method he adopted following advice from his family.
– It was my mother who tipped me off. She probably thought it was a good idea to destroy some magazines. I have some old magazines that I have replaced. They can be used as dry training magazines, and not just collect dust, says Lægreid.
The wet shot in Lenzerheide
It is Greg McKenna who has led the investigation into the incident. He is also the man who established BIU, an entity independent from the International Biathlon Union (IBU), in 2020.
Norway reported on the dangerous shot that was fired on Friday morning before the sprint practice on Saturday. On the same Saturday, Lægreid was questioned by the Swiss police, and on Sunday the IBU decided that he was denied a start to the joint start.
– We spent the time checking whether this is something we should report at all. Is it something the IBU and BIU have anything to do with, or should it only be reported to the police in the country you are in? We were very uncertain, says Botnan to NRK.
- You can watch the Biathlon World Cup from Nove Mesto on NRK1 and TV 2. It starts with a mixed relay on NRK1 on Wednesday at 17.20.