(Reuters) – Track and field’s U.S. governing board (USATF) has voted to continue their year-old “temporary administrative leave” of president Vin Lananna.
The board took the action over the weekend after hearing from Lananna, who was placed on leave in February last year to avoid what USATF said was any “potential conflict of interest” after it was learned he had spoken to law enforcement officials concerning a global investigation into athletics championships.
“Based on what was heard (over the weekend) and in light of the recent grievances filed, the board was overwhelming in favor of tabling the issue,” USATF temporary president Michael Conley said in a statement to Reuters.
“The board feels it remains prudent to follow the dispute resolution process prescribed by USATF bylaws.”
Lananna was traveling and was not available for comment.
David Greifinger, one of his attorneys, said the board’s action was ‘a power play’ to keep Lananna, who was elected USATF president by acclamation in 2016, from doing his job.
“Not only does it violate USATF bylaws but I think it is illegal under Virginia law where USATF is incorporated,” Greifinger told Reuters.
He confirmed Lananna had filed a grievance against USATF, seeking reinstatement. Lananna had done so to protect his rights before the one-year statue of limitations on his case had expired, Greifinger said.
“The idea that Vin is unable to serve because he was interviewed by Department of Justice attorneys over a year ago is absurd,” the attorney said. “It is an affront to the membership that elected him.”
USATF said in 2018 it had no reason to believe Lananna, the leader of Eugene Oregon’s successful bid for the 2021 world championships, had done anything wrong but thought it best to place him on leave until the U.S. Department of Justice investigation was resolved.
Lananna has repeatedly denied he or TrackTown USA, the organising committee for the 2021 world championships, had done anything wrong in securing the meeting, which became controversial after IAAF’s council awarded it without a bid process.
Asked if Lananna had been accused of any wrongdoing by the Department of Justice or heard from them since his interview, Greifinger said: “No”.
“The only mantra you hear from the (USATF) national office is we need a letter from the Department of Justice telling us that he is not being investigated or the investigation is concluded,” Greifinger said. “You are never going to get that.”
The Justice Department could not be reached for immediate comment. It generally does not comment on cases it has or is investigating and previously has offered no comment on the Oregon championships.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; editing by Sudipto Ganguly