US $ailing Ordered to Comply with
A distinguished hearing panel of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has unanimously held that US Sailing’s protest and redress system violates the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act of 1978. US Sailing was given six months to provide its athletes the right to fair treatment guaranteed by United States law. The panel was appointed by Peter Ueberroth, USOC Chairman, with representatives from five different Olympic sports.
The case resulted from US Sailing’s women’s RS-X Olympic windsurfing trials in October 2007. Annapolis, MD windsurfer Farrah Hall won the trials but was removed as winner by a protest committee appointed by US Sailing after a one-party hearing requested by another competitor, Nancy Rios. Hall has never been accused of any wrongdoing and was not informed of the hearing. Instead US Sailing informed her that she had been replaced as its 2008 Olympic women’s windsurfing representative as she completed her shower after the event.
Farrah Hall sought a fair hearing under US Sailing’s existing rules before losing her right to compete in China but US Sailing refused. She then pursued the action before the USOC.
In its comprehensive 23-page ruling, the panel said: “… this controversy could have been avoided if US Sailing had notified Hall of Rios’ October 14 request for redress, allowed her to participate as a party, and made its determination on evidence submitted by both parties. Instead, US Sailing seemed to have gotten wrapped around its own rules, and the Racing Rules of Sailing, and created a situation in which neither Hall nor Rios was ably served.” Read it all