I find this to be very sad for everyone involved. For the father, who doesn't know where his child is, for their families for the suspicion and search, and for Myriam who is a great example for all Olympians and Canadians. I also feel for their daughter, Maude, who must be scared and confused. Maybe the last sentence says it all: Myriam met and fell in love with a devil - Mezhari.
Interpol Contacted in Efforts to Find Myriam Bedard
Canada's Myriam Bedard celebrates the bronze medal she won in the women's biathlon event at the 1992 Albertville Olympic winter Games. (CP)
QUEBEC (CP) - Quebec City police say they've contacted Interpol to help locate former Olympian Myriam Bedard and her 11-year-old daughter.
A police spokeswoman says steps have been taken to get Bedard's photo and information disseminated worldwide. Sandra Dion says they will be eventually be distributed everywhere, including the United States.
In their last telephone conversation, the girl told her father she was in Washington, D.C., with her mother.
Jean Paquet added that he has not spoken to his ex-wife or his daughter, Maude, in three weeks.
A warrant is out for Bedard's arrest after she and her husband Nima Mazhari left Canada several weeks ago without Paquet's permission to take the girl.
Bedard's life in recent years seems to have had as many twists and turns as the Olympic biathlon courses she once mastered with consummate ease.
The latest startling development involves an arrest warrant sworn out against her on suspicion of abducting her own daughter. It's the most recent of a string of episodes in the last decade that has also seen her spar with her sports federation and make sensational allegations during the federal sponsorship scandal.
Bedard, who turns 37 next week, was a sports golden girl when she warmed the hearts of Canadians in 1994 with her beaming smile. She captivated the country as she stood atop the gold medal platform twice at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, after previously winning a bronze in 1992.
Joanne Thomson, executive director of Biathlon Canada, remembers meeting Bedard in the 1990s when they were both competitors and recalls being impressed with her grit.
"She was a very strong athlete, strong personality, very driven and mentally focused on what she was doing as an athlete," Thomson said in a telephone interview from Ottawa.
The two weren't close friends, but Thomson said: "You can just tell by when you speak to her that she's very motivated and sort of driven and knew what she wanted to achieve and was doing everything that she could to do it.
"That's what came across in her personality but she was a very pleasant person."
Jean Paquet, the biological father of Bedard's 11-year-old daughter, wants her picked up by police for violating the joint custody agreement between the pair and for taking the girl away from Quebec City without his permission.
Quebec City police issued the arrest warrant Dec. 8 but spokesman Const. Jean-Sebastien Roy said Thursday the force doesn't believe the child is in any danger.
Roy said, however, police are treating the case as an abduction in that she has allegedly violated the terms of her shared-custody agreement.
Bedard and her husband Nima Mazhari went to the United States in October and alerted the president of the International Olympic Committee, UN secretary general Kofi Annan and David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, to the fact they were making the trip.
Bedard's mother, Francine Bedard, said Bedard's father briefly spoke to his daughter at least five times on the telephone and was told she was living in a hotel.
"It was never more than a minute and then the line went dead."
Pierre Bedard, Myriam's father, told all-news channel LCN it is not like his daughter to behave this way.
"Normally, Myriam would never have done that," he said. "She's always protected her daughter just like a mother does. And for her to disappear like that without giving us any news is not normal and, more than anything, it's worrisome.
"I am worried. Had she said she was going on holiday, it would be one thing. They said they were going to the United States. They might be there but maybe it's a ruse and they're somewhere else."
Myriam Bedard, a native of Loretteville, near Quebec City, was a careful guardian of her image.
She sued - and settled out of court - when Wrigley Canada Inc. ran an ad featuring an altered photo of her that she said made her look masculine.
She tussled with Biathlon Canada over training alone and endorsements. She expressed gratitude to the organization at the 1994 Olympics but also mused she might train elsewhere if her funding was cut.
But she started really raising eyebrows with charges during the federal sponsorship scandal.
Bedard said she was forced from her Via Rail job because of questions she raised about inflated payments to Quebec ad firms.
Via chairman Jean Pelletier was fired by then-prime minister Paul Martin when he belittled the sports hero.
An arbitrator also later concluded Bedard left Via voluntarily.
She also said she was told that racing car driver Jacques Villeneuve was paid US$12 million to wear the Canada logo on his uniform and that the Groupaction advertising agency trafficked in drugs - claims that have been denied by the driver and the firm.
The blue-eyed blond credited Mazhari with giving then-prime minister Jean Chretien advice to keep Canada out of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Mazhari also tried to get Chretien to testify for him at a civil trial where Mazhari is being sued for non-payment of a $2,414 bill. Chretien did not appear.
Mazhari has had his own share of controversy, being charged in 2005 with theft and possession of about 20 stolen paintings worth $100,000.
Bedard's sister Chantal said Myriam had changed since meeting Mazhari.
"She fell under the control of this man who probably had the knack of knowing how to speak to her and he got her involved in all kinds of adventures," she said.