Also listen to the article in the audio version.
When Libuša Steklá was discussing the accounts of the speed skating association, one thing stopped her immediately: According to documents, young athletes were supposed to have full board at foreign training camps – paid breakfast, lunch and dinner.
However, Libuša Steklá, as a speed skating club in Hodonín, took part in some stays. So she knew that the athletes in the apartments in the Alps cooked for themselves. Her son also went to the camp. “Once they took a bag of potatoes in the car,” Steklá recalls.
This is how the case, which was opened last week, started: The Speed Skaters’ Union got into a dispute with head coach Petr Novák over the training bills in 2019 and 2020. The union has doubts that the coach behind the rise of speed skating star Martina Sáblíková did not present the real costs.
According to the union, to which Libuša Steklá passed on her findings as a basis, it may be about 700 thousand more than it actually was.
While the union with Petr Novák has been resolving the disagreement for a long time, Steklá is going to choose a more drastic procedure.
“I will file a criminal complaint against Mr. Novák. I want the police to check this matter. Let it be clear how it all happened, “the Hodonín coach decided.
She admits that she had conflicts with Petr Novák in the past, which gradually escalated.
In Hodonín, Steklá leads a small team, two years ago several of his competitors even got into the junior national team.
But the general praise of how the amateur-led club can nurture new talent has gradually turned into a sharp clash with the head coach of the union, Novák. Libuša Steklá says that Petr Novák pushed her hard to transfer successful Hodonín competitors to his club in the Vysočina region. Otherwise, he won’t drive for the national team anymore.
“He threatened to prove to me that my competitors would never be allowed into big races and never get the training conditions. And that they will have to pay for all the preparation themselves, “says Steklá, that indirectly everything revolved around money. A club without successful competitors can hardly reach for subsidies, on the contrary, when the club can boast results, it is better asked for contributions from the city or region.
It is not possible to find out how Novák sees his relationship with Stekla and what his version of the story is.
The national team coach has not communicated directly since the first article published by the Case Report List a week ago. The answer to the reporter’s repeated call to Novák’s number is a busy tone – it cannot be ruled out that the chief coach blocked the journalist’s phone number.
However, Novák does not pick up the phone even when calling from other numbers and does not reply to sent SMS messages. His only outcome was a press release from last Tuesday, in which Petr Novák rejected the union’s doubts, calling the problem an administrative misunderstanding.
She checked the accounts – and it was a shock
Libuša Steklá took a job and verified the accounts she received from the union’s management for training camps in Italy. According to her, the union lacks credible proof of payment for accommodation. Coach Steklá says that Petr Novák only provided the association with simple confirmations from the hotel about the number of nights spent and the price. No payment receipts.
Steklá then sent an Italian hotel asking how much the accommodation actually cost for a group of people (eight to eleven athletes went to the camp). At the same time, she compared prices via the Booking.com application. Result? According to her, accommodation in apartments, where speed skaters lived for five or six, could be bought cheaper by tens of euros per night. Plus no food.
So add up: For the four training camps, the difference was 700,000.
“It was a huge shock to me. Personally, it affected me a lot, because basically Novák also showed something that was not true at all for me as a participant in the training camp, “says Steklá.
The speed skating association then started negotiating with coach Novák, he wanted proof of how much he paid in Italy for accommodation and food. The tables presented from the hotel – although signed and stamped – are scarce for the association.
“We had serious doubts about whether the amounts were exaggerated. And Novák repeatedly refused to prove exactly what he paid during the training camp and how much it really cost, “confirms Václav Musil, the former vice-president of the union.
The union reiterates that it is working to clarify the dispute. “It’s being solved,” says Jindřich Pařík, the union’s general secretary.
However, the review of the financing of the concentration has been going on for the second year in a row and is still without results. “There is not much willingness in the union’s leadership to bring this investigation to a conclusion,” thinks coach Steklá, referring to the fact that Novák is an icon among speed skaters – in terms of sports results.
Novák claims that he accounted for the costs correctly and handed over these documents to the union. Last Tuesday, he sent a statement to the press, admitting that at most some administrative errors could have occurred. Otherwise, according to Novák, the young athletes were always well taken care of.
“Unknowingly, I may not always have followed all the administrative manuals, which I have admitted several times within the union. However, I have always acted exclusively for the benefit of all competitors, regardless of age and performance, for the benefit of the entire speed skating, “wrote Novák. With the warning that he will not say anything else about this matter and it is therefore unnecessary to ask him further questions.
Statement by coach Petr Novák
Unknowingly, I may not always have followed all the administrative manuals, which I have admitted several times within the union. However, I have always acted solely for the benefit of all competitors, regardless of age and performance, for the benefit of all speed skating.
I know that many sports face similar challenges in trying to ensure decent youth education. He tries to move difficult in the set boundaries, improvise and get the maximum for the development of the sport. They do it with the best of conscience, and so do I.
At the end of the year, my contract ends and I feel pressures within the movement not to extend my contract. The timing of the whole affair is not accidental for me. Personally, I will be satisfied if the whole topic is closed fairly and the Czech speed skating will once again be able to focus on the necessary sports development.
Union: Don’t talk to journalists
List The report also described last week the way in which it handled finances for sports camps in the union. According to officials, Petr Novák received thousands of euros in cash from the union before the concentration. Accommodation and other expenses in Italy paid in cash. According to the union, it was easier than by bank transfer or credit card.
The union wrote on its website that the case has “unfortunate timing” – given that the Winter Olympics begin in February, where Novák’s main star Martina Sáblíková wants to attack other medals.
“In no case was there any attempt to harm Novák or Sáblíková in any way. Only to prevent him from abusing state money and to withstand the pressure to liquidate my son and club in Hodonín, “says Steklá about his motivation to speak out against the respected coach.
Last Thursday, the union sent a call to clubs to ensure that members do not provide journalists with any statements about financial disputes with Petr Novák. The union promises to deal with them, but only after the season. So in the spring.
“With this approach, please give all athletes the opportunity to fully focus only on sports training, especially for the Olympic Games. This is now an absolute priority. We want to be successful! ”Says the e-mail signed by the president of the union, Marcela Bradová.