Rio 2016: Dutch gymnast kicked off team for drunken night out

  • AFP, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Updated: Aug 09, 2016 22:37 IST
Yuri Van Gelder had sealed a place in Rio in the finals of the men’s rings event. (Reuters)

Dutch gymnast Yuri Van Gelder returned home in disgrace on Tuesday after being kicked off his country’s Olympics team for a night out drinking in Rio de Janeiro.

The 2005 world men’s rings champion had sealed a place in Rio in the finals of the men’s rings event, after coming seventh in Saturday’s qualifiers.

But flouting strict rules imposed on the Dutch team he then went out to celebrate in Rio on Saturday, failing to return until the early hours of Sunday.

“This has been a very difficult decision for us,” Dutch team ambassador Maurits Hendriks said in a statement Tuesday.

“I think this is really terrible for Yuri, but such behaviour is unacceptable. It does not belong in the Olympics or any kind of sporting competition.”

The Dutch Olympics team said Van Gelder, 33, who had finally realised his dream to compete in his first Olympics, had admitted “consuming alcohol” outside the Olympic village and had been “withdrawn from the competition.”

Hendriks added the team leadership “had been left with no choice” but to bar Van Gelder from continuing in the Games.

It’s not the first time that Van Gelder has run foul of the rules. In 2009, he tested positive for cocaine use during the Dutch championships and was suspended for a year. He was treated for addiction in France.

The gymnast’s manager Orlando van den Bosch told the Dutch news agency ANP that Van Gelder had been “dealt a heavy blow” as he had high hopes of winning a medal.

It was the second setback for the Dutch Olympics squad, after Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten landed in intensive care after a horrific crash on Sunday.

She was leading the 137km women’s road race when she slipped on a dangerous descent just 10km from the finish and tumbled head first over her handlebars suffering three cracked vertebrae.

Dutch teammate Anna van der Breggen went on to win the race -- the first and so far only gold for The Netherlands.

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