VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) – Not a good day for Bode Miller.

First, he finished 17th during downhill training Wednesday. Then, the overall World Cup champion was ordered to walk the long way around the finish area to reach his motor home.

That was all he needed to get rolling into a rant about his call for liberalized drug rules in sports.

“Nobody will talk to anyone about anything,” Miller told The Associated Press. “It’s a joke not being able to talk about an issue that’s getting guys disqualified and ending their careers,” he added. “They (sports officials) just make whatever new rules they want and get a paycheck for it.”

International Ski Federation general secretary Sarah Lewis said “all doors are open” for the skier, and he should speak to authorities.

“That’s the normal means of communication when you have something to say, by speaking to the parties involved, not the press,” Lewis said.

In October, Miller said the levels of banned substances should be relaxed. In response, the International Olympic Committee athletes’ commission dispatched former Swedish skier Pernilla Wiberg to get an explanation from Miller. The IOC said Wednesday the meeting was still planned.

Miller is aware he does not have much support in the ski community.

He also thinks the matter has been portrayed so that it appears sports officials are “doing a great job” while those trying to talk about it are depicted as “troublemakers.”

Miller, who studied at Maine’s Carrabassett Valley Academy, said he does not use performance-enhancing drugs.

“I don’t do anything,” he said.

Miller also criticized the international federation for the way it manages schedules and athletes.

“They literally serve up the athletes to anybody to make a buck for themselves and the money doesn’t go to any of the athletes,” he said. “It sounds hypocritical for me because I make the most money on tour. But I’m not talking about myself.

“The money is so thin for the risks some guys are taking. They earn hardly anything. FIS makes millions and millions of dollars and they put nothing into prize money. It’s a bad system.”

The top prizes for this week’s super-G and downhill in Val Gardena are $24,040 for winners to $1,202 for 10th place. The money is provided by the local organizing committee.

“The local organizing committees are the rights holders. It’s perfectly logical that they cover the costs of the events and prize money is one of the costs,” Lewis said, adding that the prizes are “significant.”

Kristian Ghedina, a 17-season veteran of the World Cup circuit, sympathized somewhat with Miller.

“A little image improvement wouldn’t hurt,” the Italian said. “It’s not like it used to be, the atmosphere isn’t as much about enjoyment anymore, it’s all result-oriented now. It was more fun when I started.”

Ghedina is content with the prize money, though.

“We should just be glad that we have prize money,” he said. “When I started there wasn’t anything. Back in the 60s racers would cross the finish line and nobody would know who they were, they had no sponsors, they were unknowns.”

Ghedina said some racers tried to form a committee a few years ago but nothing came of it.

“Maybe Miller needs to get the top guys together and try again,” he said.

AP-ES-12-14-05 1744EST

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