USA WRESTLING IS NOTIFIED THAT ARBITRATOR A. BRUCE CAMPBELL HAS RULED THAT USA WRESTLING MUST DESIGNATE KEITH SIERACKI TO THE U.S. OLYMPIC GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING TEAM AT 76 KG/167.5 POUNDS.
USA Wrestling has been notified that a decision has been reached by Arbitrator A. Bruce Campbell of Denver, Colo. concerning the 76 kg/167.5 pound position on the U.S. Olympic Team for Greco-Roman wrestling.
Campbell ruled on August 24, 2000 that the protest and grievance procedures which unsuccessfully contested Keith Sieracki's victory over Matt Lindland in Bout 244 of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for wrestling should not be vacated or set aside.
Campbell has directed USA Wrestling to withdraw the nomination of Matt Lindland to the U.S. Greco-Roman Olympic wrestling team at the 76 kg/167.5 pound weight class and to designate Keith Sieracki as the sole nominee to the team roster at that weight class.
This is in regards to Case No. 30 190 00483 00 between Keith Sieracki and USA Wrestling and Matthew Lindland.
"USA Wrestling is pleased that the proceedings have finally come to a conclusion, which finalizes our selection process for the Greco-Roman Olympic Team," said James E. Scherr, USA Wrestling Executive Director. "Our coaches and athletes can now fully, with no distractions, concentrate on their preparations for the Sydney Olympic Games, where we aim to do well. During the course of this process, USA Wrestling was placed in an unfortunate and awkward position many times. We argued neither as an advocate for either athlete, but as the national governing body, defended our process and procedures as fair, unbiased and impartial. That process selected Keith Sieracki as the 76 kg Olympic Greco-Roman team member. This recently completed arbitration upheld that process. We wish him great success in the Games."
Sieracki defeated Lindland in the championship finals series at 76 kg/167.5 pounds at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Wrestling in Dallas, Texas, June 24, 2000, two matches to one.
In Dallas, Lindland protested the third and final match, which was awarded to Sieracki. The Protest Committee for the Olympic Team Trials upheld the decision, giving the victory to Sieracki.
Lindland, pursuant to USA Wrestling rules, appealed the Protest Committee's decision to USA Wrestling's Greco-Roman Sport Committee. That body agreed with the Protest Committee's decision on July 19, 2000, denying Lindland's appeal. Lindland sought arbitration of his claim, and in a July 27, 2000 preliminary hearing, Lindland and USA Wrestling agreed to the arbitration.
On August 9, 2000, arbitrator Daniel T. Burns ruled that USA Wrestling must re-wrestle Bout #244, the third and deciding match for the 76 kg/167.5 pound position on the U.S. Olympic Team for Greco-Roman wrestling. This was concerning Case Number 30 190 00443 00 in the matter of arbitration between Matt Lindland and USA Wrestling.
A match between Lindland and Sieracki was held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center on Monday, August 14, which Lindland won, 8-0. Sieracki participated in the re-wrestle "under protest." After the match, USA Wrestling added Lindland to the nominations for the Greco-Roman wrestling team at 76 kg without withdrawing Sieracki's nomination.
Sieracki filed for arbitration concerning the matter, seeking a determination that he be the sole nominee at this weight class to the U.S. Olympic team, to the exclusion of Lindland. The ruling by Arbitrator A. Bruce Campbell is in response to that claim.
Sieracki was a 1996 U.S. Nationals champion, and placed second in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He was second in the 1999 and 2000 U.S. Nationals. Sieracki has won three Armed Forces Greco-Roman titles (1993, 1995 and 1999). He has won gold medals at the 1998 Concord Cup and the 1995 Sunkist Kids International Open. Sieracki was the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival champion. He is originally from Richland Center, Wis.
Lindland placed sixth in the 1998 World Championships, and also competed in the 1997 and 1999 World Championships. He was a 1999 Pan American Games champion. Lindland is a four-time U.S. Nationals champion (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000) and has placed second in the U.S. Nationals twice. He placed third in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He was a 1996 World Cup champion. Lindland competed for the Univ. of Nebraska, and was also a Junior College national champion for Clackamas CC. He is originally from Gladstone, Ore.
BELOW IS THE TEXT OF THE FINDING AND CONCLUSIONS, AS WELL AS THE AWARD, CONCERNING CASE 30 190 00483 00
II. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
1. No evidence was presented in this case that the mat officials in Bout No. 244 did not understand the rules which they applied in this match and thus, in that sense, no evidence was presented in this case that these officials "misapplied" the rules in issue. In fact, the evidence presented is that at the protest, the question of the mat officials' proper understanding of the rules in question was considered, and that the protest panel specifically decided that the mat officials' understanding of the rules was not an issue.
2. The overwhelming evidence that was presented in this case was that there was no irregularity or impropriety by way of wrongful, or dishonest, or intentionally improper, or bad faith conduct by any mat official, USA official, or USOC official, relating to this contested bout.
3. The substantial weight of evidence in this case is that the mat officials for Bout No. 244 are generally regarded by USA Wrestling community as experienced and well-qualified, and, at least by reputation, among the most able of USA Wrestling's officials. The testimony was that, otherwise, these officials would not have been selected for a competition of the importance of the Olympic trials.
4. The removal or recusal of four members of the Greco-Roman Sport Committee of USA Wrestling from the grievance process was due to USA Wrestling's concern with either actual or an appearance of conflicts of interest and was done in good faith with the interest of both athletes and the integrity of the grievance process as the motivating factors. There was no evidence that this prejudiced either wrestler. This does not constitute an irregularity or impropriety on the part of USA Wrestling and does not justify setting aside the result of the grievance process.
5. The evidence is inconclusive as to whether Mr. Dan Chandler, the Olympic Greco-Roman team coach, was precluded or discouraged by the Greco-Roman Sport Committee from offering an opinion in the grievance process that the initial match was so poorly officiated as to justify a rematch. No matter how qualified the expert, if his opinion is offered on the subject of judgement calls of mat officials, it is not relevant. The USA Wrestling rules specifically so dictate; common sense suggests that any other rule would invite endless controversy in athletic competition.
6. Contrary to the contention of Mr. Lindland, the USA Wrestling rule that limits reference to videotape to during-match viewing by mat officials, and to extreme circumstances of flagrant misconduct and brutality violations is not, in itself, improper, irregular or unfair to anyone. The evidence is clear that USA Wrestling's rules on videotape use have been made and confirmed over years of careful consideration and deliberation with the interests of wrestlers and wrestling in mind. The Arbitrator declines to consider whether USA Wrestling's rules on use of videotape, which differ from those of FILA, are less or more wise than those of FILA. In any event, an arbitration proceeding such as this in not a proper forum for amendment of these USA Wrestling rules.
7. There was no irregularity or impropriety in the way that Bout No. 244 between Messrs. Sieracki and Lindland was conducted, officiated, protested or grieved that would make it fundamentally unfair to allow the initial outcome of that match to stand.
A. The protest and grievance procedures which unsuccessfully contested Keith Sieracki's victory over Matt Lindland in Bout No. 244 should not be