A report has found "wrongful behaviour" committed by former US Sailing staff ©US Sailing

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has found evidence of "wrongful behaviour" by former members of the US Sailing leadership team after a probe into the governing body.

An independent investigation ran for six months after athletes raised fears they could face retaliation for reporting concerns to US Sailing or the USOPC.

Report findings have revealed "a culture that was not consistent with safe and appropriate athlete development", US Sailing has said, while members of staff involved have now left the organisation.

Two dozen athletes, staff members, coaches and others were interviewed during the probe and the USOPC said it had uncovered "multiple instances" of attempted or actual retaliation by two USA Sailing members.

This was against athletes who raised concerns about staff and the Olympic operations programme.

Behaviour included "publicly disparaging" an athlete and "directing any ire in the sailing community" regarding the organisation's leadership change towards them.

The athlete involved is said to have suffered "significant detrimental personal and financial consequences".

"Recurring retaliatory conduct" towards athletes in response to them raising concerns about Olympic operations was also found, "harming at least one athlete and contributing to others being afraid to speak up in fear of retribution".

Another finding was an attempt to divert donor money to a "new venture", with "misleading representations that the new venture would be taking the place of US Sailing in overseeing Olympic sailing".

It is claimed this resulted in reduced resources for athletes.

Findings also indicate that team leaders "lacked understanding" about the mandated presence of athletes in the governing body's leadership.

US Sailing said the staff involved had now left the governing body ©Getty Images
US Sailing said the staff involved had now left the governing body ©Getty Images

"To address the wrongful conduct the USOPC identified, the report recommends that US Sailing take appropriate action consistent with its policies, clarify the role of athletes in national governing body leadership and the process for reporting and addressing certain athlete and staff concerns to protect against retaliation, and implement clearer and more transparent key Olympic department policies so athletes are confident they are being treated fairly," US Sailing said. 

"As the national governing body for the sport and the organisation certified by the USOPC to be responsible for athletes for the Olympics and other international competitions, it is US Sailing's duty to recognise the validity of the USOPC's findings, take actions in accordance with the USOPC's recommendations to address the identified problems, and create the best possible environment for our athletes.

"Earlier this year, before the USOPC began its investigation, because of varied complaints made by athletes and others and the results of an internal review and assessment, US Sailing made changes to its Olympic leadership and operations. 

"Since then, the individuals who the USOPC determined to have exhibited wrongful behaviour have not been employed by or affiliated with US Sailing."

US Sailing said it had recently paid more than $500,000 (£410,000/€473,000) in funding to 29 athletes as it tries to move on from the scandal.

The country has also qualified boats in four classes for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

"We are excited about the progress being made and what lies ahead," the governing body said. 

"US Sailing fully supports the USOPC's mandate regarding having sailor athletes in leadership positions and the importance of the athletes' voice being truly heard. 

"US Sailing will continue to take an athlete-focused approach, create an environment to ensure that the issues identified in the USOPC's investigation will not happen again, and enable our athletes to train, compete, and thrive over the long term."