United States Taekwondo Union (USTU)

Governing body for Olympic taekwondo in United States

Agreement saves taekwondo federation. January 28, 2004. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/more/01/28/bc.oly.usoc.taekwondo.ap/

CHICAGO (AP) -- The U.S. Taekwondo Union agreed to a restructuring plan Tuesday, sparing it from being stripped of its powers as the sport's national governing body by the U.S. Olympic Committee.  Under the agreement, president Sang Lee and the rest of the USTU's officers resigned immediately. The USOC's executive committee will appoint a five-person board to run the USTU, and also choose a new executive director for the federation. 

Had the USTU not agreed to the remediation plan and been decertified, the USOC would have taken over the sport -- including selection of the team for this summer's Athens Olympics. "Solving this battle now is in the best interest of USTU, especially for the athletes," said Tim Connolly, interim executive director of the USTU. "I'm very confident this remediation plan will be able to set things in the right direction. I'm sure there's going to be struggles along the way, but it's a much faster way to come to some resolution."

The USOC recommended decertifying the USTU in October after an investigation found financial mismanagement, including $206,000 owed to the USOC. The USOC also criticized the organization for having four executive directors and five finance directors since 1997. The USOC had already cut off base funding to the USTU early last year, making performance payments directly to the athletes instead.

Attorneys for the USTU and USOC agreed in November on a re-organizational plan that would have allowed the USTU to retain its Olympic charter. But the USOC's executive committee rejected it because it allowed Lee, a lightning rod for controversy, to stay with the USTU in a lesser role.

Lee announced his resignation last Friday, but said it wouldn't take effect until April 30. That wasn't good enough for the USOC, which said it was going ahead with the decertification process.

Attorneys for both sides spent most of Tuesday morning trying to reach an agreement that would spare the USTU, finally settling about three hours after the decertification hearing was scheduled to begin. Under the agreement, the USOC's executive committee will name a five-person committee to run the USTU. One member will be an athlete, and the other four will be at-large. The USOC also will name an executive director, who will then hire a financial director. "We are clearly a dysfunctional organization," said Christo Lassiter, an attorney who appeared on behalf of the USTU's board of governors. "This dysfunction has gone back 10, 12 years, and we very much appreciate what the USOC staff has done to right the ship."

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