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Olympics

Olympic leaders seek to decertify USA Badminton

The sun sets on the Black Sea in Sochi, Russia, beyond an Olympic rings display.
The sun sets on the Black Sea in Sochi, Russia, beyond an Olympic rings display.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

With the 2020 Tokyo Games only eight months away, long-troubled USA Badminton might now lose its status as the national governing body for the sport.

U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee officials launched a formal revocation procedure Tuesday, seven months after first expressing concerns about the Anaheim-based organization’s failure to adequately handle athlete safety, governance and finances.

Revoking USA Badminton’s status could take months and potentially leave USOPC officials with scant time to assume control over training top American players before the Games.

“This isn’t a step I’ve taken lightly,” USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said in an open letter. “But it is a necessary one and in the best interest of the athletes we serve.”

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Badminton officials had yet to issue a response as of Tuesday afternoon.

The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee said Friday that opera legend Placido Domingo said he wouldn’t perform at pre-Olympics cultural events in Japan.

In the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal — and facing pressure from Congress — the USOPC has vowed to increase oversight of the national governing bodies under its umbrella. A number of sports, including swimming, diving and boxing, have come under particular scrutiny.

A Section 8 complaint against USA Gymnastics -– similar to the one now directed at badminton -– has been placed on hold because the gymnastics organization filed for bankruptcy.

Badminton’s shortcomings were outlined in a review last February.

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Auditors found the national governing body deficient in areas such as background checks and SafeSport training. There were instances of financial discrepancies and potential conflicts of interest.

Just this week, USA Badminton announced that Ken Wong had been elected as a new chairman. Numerous board members had previously resigned.

“We have attempted to work with USAB’s leadership over the course of the last year to address our concerns,” Hirshland said, adding: “those efforts have not yielded the results necessary to give me confidence in USAB’s ability to continue to serve its athletes.”

The USOPC will form a three-person hearing panel to review the Section 8 complaint, giving USA Badminton an opportunity to respond. Hirshland said the process could take “several weeks, perhaps a few months.”


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