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America's Cup Fresh shots in cheating case
Oracle Team USA race against Emirates Team New Zealand. Photo / Brett Phibbs

America’s Cup Fresh shots in cheating case

Fresh shots have been fired in the America’s Cup cheating case that refuses to go away.

Kiwi sailor Matt Mitchell, a former grinder for Oracle Team USA, has filed complaints of gross misconduct against all five members of the America’s Cup jury, including New Zealand’s Graham McKenzie, with sailing’s international governing body, ISAF.

His action follows a recently laid complaint against his former teammate Simeon Tienpont, who is now with Italian team Luna Rossa.

In a press release, Mitchell claims the jury members were “selectively negligent” and he was “unwittingly used as a pawn in Oracle Team USA’s quest to defend the America’s Cup against Team New Zealand”.

Mitchell was banned for four races and subsequently never took part in Oracle’s cup defence after the international jury found him guilty of gross misconduct following a hearing into the manipulation of the weight distribution of boats that Oracle sailed in warm-up regattas.
Yachting New Zealand later ruled no further action should be taken against Mitchell, with the panel raising a number of questions with regard to the conduct and actions of the international jury while investigating the case. Earlier this month ISAF also ruled Mitchell’s case to be closed, clearing the way for the Kiwi sailor to seek damages.

Mitchell’s complaints relate to an admission signed by Tienpont, which was used as evidence implicating Mitchell in boat tampering, while the Dutchman escaped penalty.

Mitchell also alleges the jury members had in their possession a document they failed to disclose that “fuels the implication of collusion”.

“I have at all times told the truth during this episode and placed my reliance in the ISAF and ACIJ process to establish the facts. As competitors we are faced with no alternative but to trust in the administrators of our sport to adjudicate without bias, in this regard the ACIJ failed completely,” Mitchell said.

McKenzie, the New Zealander on the jury, has been singled out in Mitchell’s complaint. Mitchell alleges McKenzie faces a further allegation of witness tampering by acting in an intimidating or threatening manner. The Herald is attempting to obtain McKenzie’s reaction to today’s development.

Earlier this month, Paul Henderson, a former ISAF president and former member of the International Olympic Committee, also filed complaints of gross misconduct against the five members of the international jury in relation to the handling of the America’s Cup cheating case.

As part of his “indefatigable quest to bring the real perpetrators to account” Mitchell is also suing his former employer for the $80,000 he has spent on legal fees fighting the cheating accusations plus damages.

by Dana Johannsen

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