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VOR: Rule 69 protest has been dismissed 'on a number of grounds'

Thursday, December 7, 2017

CAPE TOWN – Nothing official out yet from the Volvo Ocean Race management, but one hears from multiple sources that the Rule 69 protest against Scallywag skipper David Witt (AUS) and ex-navigator Steve Hayles (GBR) has been summarily dismissed after a hearing this afternoon in Cape Town. We are gathering the details, already have many, and will be writing more in due course. We will also be going live with a Facebook netcast with one of the parties via Skype from Cape Town on next week's "Tuesdays with TFE" if not sooner.


One odd piece of info that we have learned is that the "EDIO" – the Event Disciplinary Investigation Officer appointed by World Sailing to investigate the complaints, John Doerr (GBR) – was not present in Cape Town for the hearing, but was half way around the world in Phuket serving on a jury. Moreover, we are told he gave no evidence via Skype or otherwise. 


Reportedly, as EDIO Mr Doerr received at least two complaints. We have a copy of the first complaint from a Mr Alex Haworth (for the avoidance of doubt, we did not receive the report from Mr Haworth). We do not know the gentleman nor his nationality. Mr Haworth's complaint named Bouwe Bekking of Team Brunel and Mr Witt, not Mr Hayles. The complaint against Mr Bekking stemmed from this 14 Oct 17 BBC article. The complaint against Mr Witt was for a post to the Scallywag team's Facebook page, long since removed, and for this 4 July 17 article on the VOR website. The complaint was brief, and only had links to articles with no discussion or argumentation as to why those articles rose to the level of Rule 69 "misconduct." 


Apparently Mr Doerr did not name Mr Bekking in his report to the Volvo jury, but added Steve Hayles along with Mr Witt. Regardless, the protest against both has now been dismissed as we await the official word from VOR media.


Update: The VOR statement has now been issued. It is well-written with good quotes. Read it here.


John Doerr (GBR), the Event Disciplinary Investigation Officer ("EDIO") appointed by World Sailing under their new Rule 69 procedure that arose from the shambolic handling of the America's Cup 2013 protest against ORACLE TEAM USA and several team members. In 2013 the International Jury, of which Mr Doerr was a member, acted as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. That proceeding was harshly criticized by the IOC's Court of Arbitration for Sport ("CAS"). It is surprising to some in our sport that Mr Doerr and other members of the 2013 AC Jury continue in such high level roles.

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