David Askinas is out as chief executive officer of USA Taekwondo, done in by financial problems and organizational chaos the Colorado Springs-based national governing body has incurred, with recent allegations of improper treatment toward a 2008 Olympian.
The change in leadership – USA Taekwondo didn’t specify whether Askinas resigned or was fired in a posting on its website – comes on the heels of another grievance filed Aug. 5 by taekwondo referee Bernard Robinson, who claims the NGB is in violation of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act and U.S. Olympic Committee bylaws because of its “failure and refusal to comply with certain membership requirements for NGBs.”
USA Taekwondo announced Askinas, the CEO for more than five years with a salary of $146,566 in 2009, will act as a consultant to the NGB through the 2012 London Games. “I am proud of the progress we have made with USA Taekwondo, and I look forward to continuing to help the organization over the next year, while I embark on some exciting, new opportunities,” said Askinas, who declined further comment about his departure.
No replacement has been named by USA Taekwondo, which lists chief financial officer Brian Lawrence atop its 11-person website directory and has an eight-person board that’s being led by Kevin Padilla, whose term as chairman expired in December. The board has three other members – J.P. Choi, Brad Lunn and Mark Williams – with expired terms, yet elections haven’t taken place due to a handful of complaints alleging conflicts of interest.
USA Taekwondo closed 2009 with $397,282 in total assets, according to an independent audit conducted last July, however, a recent USOC audit was “devastating” for Askinas, said Ed Williams, a New York lawyer representing Robinson. Just as damaging were the latest U.S. defeats – none of the 16 Americans won medals at the world championships in May, and all four Americans faltered last month at the preliminary Olympic qualifier.
“If in fact the audit was devastating, and the buck stops with him,” Williams asked, “why is he entitled to continue to be a consultant? Why isn’t he just given a severance? … The membership of (USA Taekwondo) doesn’t have answers. They’re in the dark.” He added that “the whole NGB is functionless. … You have to start over. USA Taekwondo cannot – at this point – reform itself. It doesn’t have the authority to reform itself.”
Robinson called upon the USOC to decertify USA Taekwondo in a 22-page grievance he issued in February, and USOC associate general counsel Gary Johansen emailed letters Monday to Padilla and Williams confirming the USOC will “shortly” assemble a hearing panel to address the complaint, in which Robinson accuses USA Taekwondo of lacking “the managerial and financial capability to plan and execute its obligations.”
In his most recent grievance, Robinson cited a sworn statement submitted to the USOC by a female taekwondo competitor that details “inappropriate conduct” by Askinas, and sources told The Gazette the athlete is Charlotte Craig. Robinson asserted that “the blame for financial problems and uncovered irregularities lies squarely at the feet of” Askinas and that the board needs “individuals without inherent and disabling conflicts of interest.” Until that happens, he wrote, “USA Taekwondo athletes will continue to underperform.”
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