Record female Olympian Fontana to stay with Italy

FILE PHOTO: Athlete Arianna Fontana poses after disembarking with the Olympic delegation from an aircraft, at Malpensa airport in Milan, Italy February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's most decorated female Olympian, record breaking short track speed skater Arianna Fontana, will not defect to another country, the head of the Italian Olympic Committee said on Friday.

Last month, the 32-year-old athlete had hinted at a possible switch to the U.S. due to a long-running feud she has with the Italian national skating federation.

"She called me last weekend and we spoke several times. I want to say it: there is no question that Arianna Fontana will not continue competing for Italy," Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago said.

His comments, reported by the ANSA news agency, were confirmed by his spokesman.

Last year, Fontana won three medals in Beijing, bringing her personal Olympic medal tally to 11 - more than any other short track skater, female or male - but cast doubt over her presence at the following Olympics in 2026 in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo.

"Things with the federation are what they are," she had said during the Beijing Games.

The rift between Fontana and her national federation reportedly emerged after it opposed her choice of husband and Italian-American citizen Anthony Lobello as coach after the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Things got worse when Fontana claimed she had been harassed by male national team athletes during training.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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