Canadian curling world swept up in ‘Broomgate’

CALGARY — Sport and controversy often go hand in hand; in the NFL, it’s “deflategate,” in soccer, it’s the FIFA bribery investigation.

Now, Canada’s newest sporting scandal has hit the curling world.

Broomgate, as many are calling it, has now prompted the World Curling Federation to act on a controversial broom.

Curling rinks are buzzing with talk about the new fabric on the broom heads.

“On what I’ve seen in terms of research, it is sorta like sandpaper but at a microscopic level,” said Dan Bubola of the Calgary Curling Club.

“Normally, you see two guys sweeping as hard as you can. Now, you’re getting one guy sweeping this way, one guy sweeping that way and they’re trying to alter the path of the rock.”

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In curling, you sweep a rock to make it go further and straighter.

Critics, however, say these new brooms can actually slow a rock down and make it curl more — causing a real “broom-ha-ha.”

As the scandal has developed over the past few weeks, most Canadian professional curlers stopped using the brooms at their competition.

Ben Hebert, an Olympic medalling curler, says it changed the game too much.

“Your best shooters are your best shooters, not your best sweeper make everyone awesome,” said Hebert.

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When the World Curling Federation acknowledged the controversy last week, is said it would come out with a ruling before an upcoming competition this weekend.

Friday, it issued a moratorium on the use of the brooms at that competition only, with the review continuing to determine if they’ll be permanently banned from the sport.

Until then, some expect the friction to continue over the talk that’s rocking the curling world.

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“It’s all about handshakes and having beers after the game,” said Hebert. “Using things that have question marks around them, grey areas, if you have an option to use something else everyone sees as legit and those things go away, that’s the gentlemen’s sport of curling.”

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