In a sign of its concern over the turmoil at US Speedskating, the United States Olympic Committee is pressuring the federation's board of directors to begin reworking the sport's management and governance.
The Tribune has learned that USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun sent a letter to board President Thomas Frank late last week in which Blackmun said the federation needed to change the makeup, authority and purview of its board.
The letter obliquely mentioned the possibility of using what Blackmun told the Tribune was the "nuclear option" of decertifying the federation if the speedskating board did not act. The USOC can move on its own under the provisions of the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act and its bylaws.
The USOC letter urged speedskating to appoint independent directors — the USS board currently has none, despite existing USOC guidelines to have them — and to stop the involvement of volunteer board members engaging in day-to-day operations that should be handled by paid staff.
The USS board was to discuss the letter at a meeting by telephone Monday night. Its first step likely will be to fill the open spot on its board with an independent member.
The sport and its board have been swirling in controversy the last few months. Last month, the Tribune reported that for years the organization has been plagued by myriad financial and organizational problems, partly stemming from board interference. Its most recently tax filing shows it finished with a deficit of more than $750,000 to an operating budget of $4.3 million.
Blackmun's letter indicated the USOC was getting involved because the chaos and friction inside speedskating was affecting support of athletes and their competitive results less than a year from the next Winter Olympics.
The U.S. short-track team, based in Salt Lake City, has split into three factions. Meanwhile, many of the long-track skaters prefer to train outside Salt Lake City, even though they receive less financial support by doing that.