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Disabled Athletes File Grievance

posted: 01/01/2000

Park City, UT, Feb. 8--After failing to negotiatea compromise to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA)decision in September to cut the U.S. Disabled Ski Team loose from itsgovernance, 21 of the team's athletes yesterday filed a formal grievancewith the USSA to stop the action. The grievance claims that the USSA'sdecision that the disabled team should form a "separate but parallel"organization by May 1, 2000 broke several of the association's own by-laws.

In part, the grievance claims that the USSA did not have a quorum when itvoted to drop the disabled team and that members of the disciplinecommittee for disabled skiing were never consulted in a meaningful way,both requirements in the USSA's by-laws. In addition, the grievance saysthat eliminating the disabled team from USSA authority would require theUSSA to amend its by-laws, "amounts to discrimination based on disabilityand is against public policy."

USSA board members have maintained that the decision is a matter of focusand funding and is in the best interest of the team. They claim thedisabled team needs to set up its own ski-specific governing association totake full advantage of grants and funding opportunities. But the athleteshave maintained the timing is terrible. Although the team has justcompleted the world championships-where it won the most medals amongcompeting nations-it faces another season before the Paralympics in 2002and feels setting up its own shop will set disabled programs back years indevelopment.

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