CALGARY — Kaillie Humphries and Canada’s governing body of bobsled didn’t quite call a truce, but they severed a relationship that was unsalvageable.
Humphries expressed mixed emotions in a statement Sunday after Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s announcement the previous evening she would be granted her request for a release.
The clock was ticking on Humphries, as the two-time Olympic champion required that release by Monday in order to compete for the United States this season.
"Today I don’t know how to feel," Humphries wrote. "While I am very happy this purgatory has ended after over a year of trying to get my concerns and the concerns of other athletes taken seriously, I am also very sad to not compete under my flag any longer."
So the 34-year-old Calgarian, who has dominated international women’s bobsled for much of her 15 years on the national team, got her wish — except she didn’t.
BCS was also in a no-win situation.
The organization faced criticism whether it left Humphries in limbo or released an athlete it has invested time and money in to compete for a rival powerhouse team.
"This was not an easy decision, nor was it one we took lightly," BCS said in a statement Saturday. "Alongside our stakeholders, we carefully weighed all the relevant factors in this important and complex decision of releasing a medal-potential athlete to one of our top competitors.
"Ultimately, we firmly believe that supporting our current athletes and the positive culture they have developed as a team will foster the environment we need to successfully grow our sport and slide onto the international podium both now, and in the future.
"These athletes and coaches deserve the opportunity to focus on their pursuit of excellence."
Humphries is free to join USA Bobsled, which was ready to welcome her when she obtained her release.
She lives in California and married former U.S. bobsledder Travis Armbruster earlier this month.
Humphries competed at national push trials in Lake Placid, N.Y., as a guest earlier this month. The World Cup season opens Nov. 29 in Park City, Utah, where Humphries could be wearing the stars and stripes.
"It has been my pleasure and the greatest honour of my life to represent you on the world’s stage wearing the Maple Leaf," Humphries said in her statement.
"No words can adequately describe what is going through my head and my heart."
The pilot and brakewoman Heather Moyse won back-to-back gold in 2010 and 2014 making them the first women to repeat as Olympic champions.
The duo carried Canada’s flag at the 2014 closing ceremonies.
How did it get to the point where one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians wanted out and was willing to go to court to leave?
Mere months after winning an Olympic bronze medal with Phylicia George at the 2018 Winter Games, Humphries filed a harassment complaint Aug. 22 alleging the head coach verbally and mentally abused her and accusing BCS management of mishandling her concerns in violation of the organization’s own policies.
BCS handed the complaint to a third-party company that specializes in investigating such matters.
Hill Advisory Services concluded in its report made public earlier this month that "in the investigator’s opinion there has been no breach to relevant policy."
Humphries did not compete for Canada in 2018-19. She submitted a list of conditions in May under which she would return to the national team.
The list included a new coach and her own high-performance director, coverage of a suite of travel, training and competition costs, no direct contact with BCS management and backpay of Sport Canada Athletes Assistance money for the 2018-19 season, which amounted to $21,180.
BCS countered its policy is not to negotiate with individual athletes on conditions for them to compete for Canada.
Humphries asked for her release Aug. 3.
BCS said it would defer a decision until after the independent review of her harassment complaint was complete.
With a deadline looming, Humphries took BCS to court to force the issue with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit — which she said Sunday she will drop — and a request for an injunction forcing her release.
A Calgary judge turned down Humphries’ request for an injunction Sept. 17, stating there were sports tribunals better equipped to handle the dispute.
BCS high-performance director Chris Le Bihan stated at the courthouse the organization still wanted Humphries on the national team, but it seemed the relationship had devolved past the point of no return.
Humphries took her case to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) that offers mediation and arbitration services for sport organizations that receive federal funding.
But before an arbitrator made a ruling, BCS decided to cut ties with Humphries.
As to whether the culture around the national team was "unsafe" as Humphries said, or this was a case of a personality clash, people with knowledge of the situation were reluctant to comment publicly because their livelihoods are still tied to the sport and its athletes.
The Canadian Press heard divergent opinions from people who gave them on the condition they not be identified. Humphries’ claims were both confirmed and refuted.
Canadians athletes have competed for other countries before, but the emotional breach between Humphries and the organization that has overseen her career for a decade and a half is confounding.
"To all of those that are upset with me, I’m asking only that you try to understand how difficult this has been and I would have loved to continue to compete for Canada," Humphries said.