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Police investigate claim by Ingebrigtsen brothers that their father and coach was violent

Jakob Ingebrigtsen

Piemonte , Italy - 11 December 2022; Senior men’s 10000m gold medallist Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, right, celebrates with his brother Henrik Ingebrigtsen during the SPAR European Cross Country Championships at Piemonte-La Mandria Park in Turin, Italy. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Sportsfile via Getty Images

Norwegian police launched an investigation Thursday into allegations by the three Ingebrigtsen brothers that their father, who had been their track coach at the Olympics and other events, was violent and abusive when they were growing up.

On Oct. 19, the three brothers — Jakob, Henrik and Filip — published an op-ed in Norwegian newspaper VG saying their father, Gjert Ingebrigtsen, “had been very aggressive and controlling” and “used physical violence and threats as part of our upbringing.”

Jakob Ingebrigtsen won the Tokyo Olympic 1500m, plus the last two world 5000m titles.

“Somehow, we have accepted this. We have lived with it, and in adulthood we have moved on. At least we thought so,” the brothers wrote. “In retrospect, we realize that it was naive. But two years ago, the same aggression and physical punishment struck again.

“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Gjert Ingebrigtsen has denied any wrongdoing.

On Thursday, police in Norway opened a probe into the claims. Police inspector Terese Braut Våge ssaid “information that has come to light that means we have now opened a criminal case.”

The purpose is “to uncover whether there are criminal circumstances,” she said in a statement.

The father’s lawyer, John Christian Elden, said Gjert Ingebrigtsen will “cooperate fully” with the police.

He said it was “impossible for Ingebrigtsen to defend himself against the undocumented claims his sons made” and that “the allegation of violence is unfounded.”

”I will also request investigative steps on behalf of my client, including the questioning of witnesses from people we believe can shed light on the case,” Elden said.

A spokesman for the three brothers told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that they ”must be allowed to live a sporting life in public without it interfering with their private life.”

“Their focus going forward will therefore be on what occupies them most: namely running and performance, and a constant desire to develop the Norwegian athletics environment,” Espen Skoland said in a statement.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen was named European Athlete of the Year this month. The family also appeared on a Norwegian reality show called Team Ingebrigtsen.

Two years ago, the three brothers broke ties with their father. Gjert Ingebrigtsen currently coaches Norwegian runner Narve Gilje Nordås, the world 1500m bronze medalist, leading to tensions with his sons.

The conflict escalated further when Gjert Ingebrigtsen was denied accreditation at this year’s world championships in Budapest. And following the brothers’ op-ed, the Norwegian Athletics Federation has barred Gjert Ingebrigtsen from next year’s world indoors and the European championships.