US Sailing reveals USOPC investigative report
Published on January 29th, 2024
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The future of the US Olympic Sailing Program hangs in the balance as the conflict rises between US Sailing and its largest private financial supporter AmericaOne.
What began with the resignation of Paul Cayard as Executive Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing nearly a year ago, a previously confidential report has now been revealed from an investigation conducted by the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
Here’s the timeline:
February 24, 2023: Cayard resigns from US Olympic Sailing
October 16, 2023: US Sailing releases USOPC Report
January 16, 2024: US Sailing files lawsuit against AmericaOne
January 22, 2024: AmericaOne responds to US Sailing lawsuit
Following Cayard’s resignation, the USOPC conducted a six-month investigation, and upon conclusion, they prepared both an Investigation Report & Findings (containing detailed findings) and a Community Report (containing an abbreviated summary of certain findings), with US Sailing only making public the Community Report.
When I requested a viewing of the detailed USOPC report in October 2023, I was denied by US Sailing Chief Executive Officer Alan Ostfield. “The USOPC internal report was prepared by the USOPC to be confidential and is not something that we are permitted to share in this manner,” he said.
We have seen America One’s published statement (January 22) in response to US Sailing’s lawsuit. We don’t intend to litigate our case in the media. As the certified National Governing Body for sailing, with the responsibility to maintain the integrity of the sport and protect athletes, we were unfortunately compelled to bring this lawsuit now as a necessary means to halt America One’s wrongdoing, which continues to harm athletes and US Sailing.
We encourage anyone interested to read the Report and Findings from the independent investigation by the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) which reveals that our claims of wrongdoing and resulting harm over the last year are not only “fathomable” but also very real. The litigation will move forward properly on its own path. It is not a distraction, but rather is reflective of our commitment to keeping our focus on supporting athletes, as we have always done.
There is, however, one particular misstatement made by America One that merits an immediate, corrective response for the benefit of the sailing community. There absolutely is no “administrative fee” being charged to any department within US Sailing.
Rather, the Olympic department, like every other department within US Sailing, was simply allocated its fair and appropriate share of expenses for operational services without which departments, and the organization, would not be able to function. This is extremely common in National Governing Bodies (as well as all sorts of multi-function businesses) and recommended as a best practice by independent auditors.
Necessary and Beneficial to Olympic Operations: US Sailing provides significant off-the-water support to facilitate the Olympic operations and handles the considerable and consequential operational and legal requirements mandated by Congress and the USOPC.
These requirements and needed services are aligned with other US Sailing responsibilities, which enables the Olympic and high-performance teams to most efficiently obtain quality services. US Sailing’s services to the Olympic and high-performance areas include core business functions, such as:
• Working with the USOPC and World Sailing
• Providing team marketing and promotion
• Managing fundraising and donor relations
• Generating and maintaining team partnerships
• Obtaining coach visas
• Ensuring compliance with the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act
• Ensuring compliance with SafeSport
• Providing finance support for the Olympic department (audits, taxes, budgeting, reporting, etc.)
• Managing employee benefits and payroll for Olympic department personnel
• Obtaining insurance coverage for Olympic department operations and assets
• Providing legal support for sponsor, athlete, and other Olympic department agreements
• Providing critical business infrastructure for the Olympic department
These services, which US Sailing gladly provides, are obviously needed to run our Olympic program and enable our high-performance colleagues to focus on their mission of developing elite athletes. Additionally, it is particularly surprising to see the support service expenses being questioned at all given that they are consistent, both in type and amount, with those included in the 2020 recommended Olympic budget created by America One’s Project Pinnacle initiative.
Common in National Governing Bodies: Allocating functional support service expenses is the standard method of operating within National Governing Bodies and the Olympic movement. This is seen, by way of example, in the publicly available audited financial statements of the USOPC and 12 fellow National Governing Bodies, as seen here. These NGBs similarly use support service allocations to most effectively support their important programs.
Approved by Independent Auditors & USOPC: US Sailing’s financial practices are highly regulated, transparent, and approved.
• US Sailing’s financial statements are audited annually by independent auditors, confirming that financial controls are in place and funds are spent appropriately.
• The USOPC has significant financial standards and reporting practices that National Governing Bodies must comply with, including annually demonstrating that its funds are spent appropriately.
• US Sailing’s support service allocation was approved by the independent auditors. Where donors expressed a particular area of interest, US Sailing channeled 100% of those funds to that area. The auditors have confirmed that US Sailing has properly allocated Olympic dedicated funding in accordance with donor wishes. Any statement or suggestion to the contrary is patently false.
• US Sailing’s most recent audited financial statements indicating this can be found here and US Sailing will continue to make available to the public its audited financial statements in the normal course as soon as they are available.
US Sailing is grateful for the incredible passion that exists in the sailing community and the generous support of our partners who share the vision for developing high-performance sailors and serving the wider sailing community. This is a significant responsibility placed on certified National Governing Bodies that we are honored to fulfill.
We are proud of the substantial support we were able to provide for athletes during this past year even with the unfortunate headwinds. We look forward to continuing to do so in even greater ways and will work to resolve important issues as we focus on the good times ahead that we can make happen – together.
Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Program*:
Men’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 7 (41)
Women’s One Person Dinghy – ILCA 6 (41)
Mixed Two Person Dinghy – 470 (19)
Men’s Skiff – 49er (20)
Women’s Skiff – 49erFX (20)
Men’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class (20)
Women’s Kiteboard – Formula Kite Class (20)
Men’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL (24)
Women’s Windsurfing – iQFOiL (24)
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17 (19)
* Quota per event in parenthesis but does not include Universality Places (2 men, 2 women)
Venue: Marseille, France
Dates: July 28-August 9
• Paris website: https://www.paris2024.org/en/the-olympic-games-paris-2024/
• World Sailing microsite: https://paris2024.sailing.org/
Source: US Sailing