Norway's Northug jailed over drink driving crash

Thu Oct 9, 2014 6:23am EDT
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OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's former Olympic cross-country skiing champion Petter Northug was sentenced to 50 days in jail on Thursday for crashing his car and injuring a friend in a drink driving accident in May.

Northug, twice a gold medalist in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, also received a permanent driving ban and a 185,000-crown fine ($28,800) after he fled the scene of the accident in Trondheim in western Norway, leaving his friend behind.

Northug, 28, who failed to win any medals in Sochi this year in a huge disappointment for a nation that has won more Winter Olympic medals than any other, initially denied driving the car, but later admitted guilt and did not contest the charges.

German auto maker Volkswagen, which provided the Audi involved in the crash, said the accident had been a breach of trust and the firm would not renew its deal.

Court evidence showed that Northug's blood alcohol level was more than eight times the legal limit, and he acknowledged being drunk, sleepy and unaware that his passenger was injured.

Northug, who completed a solid training program over the summer, said his main focus is now the 2015 cross country world championships in Falun, Sweden, a key event for the country given is centuries-old rivalry with is eastern neighbor.

Despite the sentence, Northug may not face immediate prison time as Norway has a long queue of convicts waiting to start their sentences and the government is in talks with the Netherlands to rent prison space.

Northug may even avoid jail altogether as Norway allows some convicts to serve their time under house arrest with an allowance to leave their home for work.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi and Terje Solsvik; Editing by Ossian Shine)

Norway's Petter Jr. Northug reacts after competing in the men's relay 4x10km cross-country event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth