Olympic gold medallist rips Hockey Canada for paying her $4K for post-concussion medical expenses


Olympic gold medallist Katie Weatherston says it was “unjust” of Hockey Canada to inform her it solely had $4,000 out there to cowl medical expenses for an ongoing traumatic mind damage she sustained whereas taking part in for Team Canada. 

She’s now talking out publicly and questioning Hockey Canada’s priorities in gentle of latest studies that the group has paid out tens of millions {dollars} in settlements for sexual abuse allegations.

“It was a slap within the face again then, once I was informed they solely have $4,000 to present me,” Weatherston informed CBC News.

“And now it is completely stunning what’s come out and that they’d no cash for me, however they’ve cash for this … It’s not honest. I do not wish to see it occur to different younger feminine athletes.”

Hockey Canada has come underneath intense public scrutiny in latest weeks over its use of its National Equity Fund — made up partly of gamers’ registration charges — to settle a $3.5 million lawsuit. A lady alleged she was sexually assaulted whereas closely intoxicated by eight hockey gamers in 2018, together with members of the lads’s World Junior group.

Hockey Canada later informed a parliamentary committee that it has withdrawn one other $7.6 million to pay out 9 complainants with sexual abuse claims since 1989.

The group has since defended the National Equity Fund, arguing that it’s used “to assist anybody who may need been injured or harmed the place insurance coverage insurance policies had been inadequate.”

Weatherston mentioned she would not perceive why she wasn’t compensated by means of that fund.

In a media assertion, Hockey Canada informed CBC News that the “security of our athletes” is its “highest precedence” and that the group has totally different insurance coverage insurance policies or self-insured funds “that could be out there” to gamers injured at Team Canada sanctioned occasions. 

The group mentioned it additionally has a Health Benefit Trust that covers some in any other case uninsured medical and dental expenses as much as a most of $5,000.

Weatherston mentioned that is not sufficient.

“The medical care I want is about $30,000 to $40,000 a 12 months,” she mentioned. “I can not afford to pay that a lot towards my medical payments, so I’m not getting the care I want.”

Katie Weatherston mentioned she would give again her Olympic gold medal if it meant getting her well being again. (Jean-Francois Benoit )

Weatherston mentioned that for the previous 16 years, she’s struggled with day by day complications, persistent exhaustion and the feeling of her ears popping, like she’s on an airplane with a chilly.

She mentioned she’s paying roughly $15,000 a 12 months out of pocket on medical care, together with physiotherapy, chiropractor appointments, and hyperbaric oxygen remedy. Weatherston mentioned she has additionally resorted to doing her personal acupuncture, cupping and massages to chop prices.

Her accidents began in 2005 when she flew over the handlebars throughout a motorcycle race with her group and landed on the pavement, knocking out three enamel, in keeping with a Hockey Canada damage report considered by CBC News. 

Then, in September 2006, she was hit from behind throughout an inter-squad recreation at Team Canada’s coaching camp. Weatherston says her head smashed into the boards.

A Hockey Canada physician cleared her in the course of the recreation to return out on the ice, mentioned Weatherston.

Later throughout the identical recreation, Weatherston collided with a teammate and bumped heads with one other in a face-off. Days later, she mentioned, she ended up in a hospital emergency room feeling nauseated and experiencing ache in the back of her neck and on the high of her backbone.

‘My head did not even hit the ice’

After break day the ice, Weatherson mentioned, her profession got here to a sudden halt in 2008 after she fell throughout a pick-up recreation in Ottawa.

“My head did not even hit the ice,” she mentioned. “I felt my mind simply go splish-splosh forwards and backwards inside my cranium and I simply knew that I used to be in bother.”

A Hockey Canada damage report written by an Ottawa physician and dated October 2012 mentioned that because of a number of concussions in 2005, 2006 and 2008, Weatherston had been left with extended post-concussion syndrome that was “probably everlasting.”

2006 Olympic gold medalist Katie Weatherston is now a part-time hockey coach, actual property agent and motivational speaker who raises consciousness about concussions. (Ashley Burke/CBC News. )

Weatherston mentioned she did not sue or file an insurance coverage declare with Hockey Canada on the time as a result of she was nonetheless hoping to get well and go to the Olympics once more.

“I used to be 25,” she mentioned. “I assumed for certain I might get again into the sport.

“You do not wish to go up towards Hockey Canada. You do not wish to be blacklisted.”

Personal damage lawyer Brian Cameron reviewed Weatherston’s paperwork and mentioned that whereas her state of affairs is “actually unjust and … actually unfair,” she waited too lengthy to sue and is now previous the statute of limitations.

“The actuality is, had she sued in time, Hockey Canada is insured,” mentioned Cameron. “She waited too lengthy and now she’s within the state of affairs the place it appears like she’s going to have these issues over the course of her life.

“And she would not actually, so far as I can inform, have any authorized recourse towards Hockey Canada.”

Weatherston sought a authorized opinion in 2013 which discovered her declare could also be “statute-barred until a court docket may discover that there was fraudulent concealment by Hockey Canada of its data of concussions.”

Emails considered by CBC News present that it wasn’t till 2012 that Weatherston bought in contact with Hockey Canada for assist paying her medical payments. 

Glen McCurdie, Hockey Canada’s former vice-president of insurance coverage and danger administration, seems as a witness on the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

According to a type of emails, the since-retired head of danger administration for Hockey Canada, Glen McCurdie, informed Weatherston there was an unintentional loss of life and dismemberment coverage that had a “traumatic mind damage element” however added that it was “comparatively new” and he did not assume she’d qualify.

Weatherston mentioned in an e mail to Hockey Canada that she had suffered a “persistent and what could also be a lifeline damage.

“Is there anything Hockey Canada can do to assist its athletes?”

A ‘shot to the intestine’

Todd Jackson, Hockey Canada’s senior supervisor of insurance coverage on the time, responded to Weatherston in June 2014, saying the group had already paid Weatherston $6,000 for the bike accident throughout coaching. He supplied her one other $4,000 to assist with her ongoing medical expenses.

“Unfortunately, the $4,000 is all I’ve to work with. Sorry,” Jackson wrote in an e mail to Weatherston.

CBC News’s makes an attempt to achieve Jackson and McCurdie by means of Hockey Canada for remark had been unsuccessful. 

Weatherston mentioned it was an “further shot to the intestine” to look at the Hockey Canada scandal unfold since May.

“They closed the e book on me,” mentioned Weatherston. “I had an incredible expertise with Hockey Canada, a few of the finest reminiscences of my life. But I additionally had a horrible expertise as a result of I felt like they simply threw me to the wayside.

“I positively would give again my gold medal in a heartbeat for my well being.”

WATCH | Hockey Canada has paid 21 settlements for sexual misconduct since 1989: 

Hockey Canada has paid 21 settlements for sexual misconduct since 1989

Hockey Canada officers revealed the group has paid out almost $9 million in settlements since 1989 to 21 folks alleging sexual misconduct.

Her companion Alexandra Pinfold is a registered nurse. She mentioned she would not perceive Hockey Canada’s priorities. 

“Why ought to she endure after they had the capability to assist?” mentioned Pinfold. “That’s not OK. It’s an injustice to ladies in athletics, actually.”

Weatherston’s mom Anna Weatherston mentioned she now wonders “if it was an incredible thought to place her into hockey.”

CBC News requested Hockey Canada why it did not use the National Equity Fund to assist Weatherston with her ongoing medical payments.

The group mentioned that out of “respect for privateness and confidentiality, it could be inappropriate … to debate a person’s particular case by means of the media.”

“We are sorry to listen to that Ms. Weatherston has considerations concerning her previous accidents,” Hockey Canada mentioned in a media assertion to CBC News. “Should there be new details about her medical case, we encourage her — as we might with any Hockey Canada member — to achieve out to us.”

Hockey Canada mentioned its insurer “would make any determinations” about her entitlement to protection.


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