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USA Fencing Initiates Independent Investigation into Alleged Bout Manipulation in Saber

03/07/2024, 11:00am CST
By Bryan Wendell

In response to specific concerns recently raised within our community and in broader online forums about saber refereeing, USA Fencing and the Referees’ Commission are launching an independent investigation in partnership with Aequitask LLC, Prince Lobel Tye and Edgeworth Economics.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a decisive move designed to uphold the integrity of our sport, USA Fencing and the USA Fencing Referees’ Commission (RC) are teaming up with Aequitask LLC, Prince Lobel Tye and Edgeworth Economics to explore concerns recently raised regarding potential bout manipulation within the saber discipline. 

USA Fencing is committed to and accountable for transparency, trust and integrity in every competition involving our athletes.

The decision to expand this investigation stems from confidential feedback received from a broad spectrum of the fencing community, including athletes, referees, coaches, and fans. We're also aware of conversation in online forums and a letter sent by Global Athlete to the FIE (International Fencing Federation) and IOC (International Olympic Committee) on behalf of select members of the USA Fencing team and expect this investigation to examine some of those concerns.

Steps taken to this point have been confidential per our Complaint and Hearing procedures, but USA Fencing and the RC believe that the broader concerns raised about the fairness of competition in saber demand action to ensure the continued integrity of the sport we love.

To ensure an investigation that is swift, thorough, and fair, we’ve hired an interdisciplinary team of professionals known for effective external investigations and data analysis: Aequitask LLC, Prince Lobel Tye and Edgeworth Economics.

Going in With Questions, Not Answers

Phil Andrews, USA Fencing CEO, emphasizes the organization's neutral approach toward the investigation: “We’re going in with questions, not answers.”

“Our mindset is not to predict an outcome but rather to seek the truth,” Andrews says. “We are taking these allegations seriously. By partnering with Aequitask, Prince Lobel, and Edgeworth, these concerns can be investigated quickly, thoroughly, and fairly, allowing USA Fencing to address any and all issues within our jurisdiction and lead by example everywhere else.”

“It is my firm belief that every athlete, coach, and referee steps onto the strip expecting a fair bout, and it is also our firm belief that all officials uphold those standards,” he says. “Our goal is to assure not only the integrity of every competition, but also to protect our close community from what a thorough investigation may show to be speculation or innuendo in the wake of honest decisions, misunderstandings or mistakes. Sincere questions about adherence to our sport’s highest standards deserve a sincere and corrective response.”

“We remain steadfast in our dedication to transparency and fairness, along with our commitment and responsibility to the entire fencing community,” Andrews says. “We will share our summary findings and any subsequent actions at the conclusion of this investigation.”

The investigation will be wide ranging and thorough, including interviews with relevant parties, analysis of video evidence, and statistical reviews. Whatever the outcome, our community will be better off for it.

How to Share What You Know

USA Fencing, Aequitask, Prince Lobel, and Edgeworth Economics encourage anyone with information related to the alleged bout manipulation or other improprieties in saber to come forward and share information by emailing or calling 617-456-8150.  Please note that comments are being accepted for this investigation only; unrelated reports should be made through our standard reporting process. The comment period will be open for 14 days.

Appreciation for Our Referees

USA Fencing also wishes to express our continued appreciation, confidence and support for the USA Fencing Referees’ Commission ethics process. The RC regularly works with staff at the national office to investigate reports of misconduct and take action where necessary. 

The RC’s support of this saber investigation is just the latest example of a robust process working as designed — all around a shared goal of strengthening our sport for all concerned.

Investigation Process

Upon completion of the investigation, USA Fencing will share the outcomes and key takeaways and any recommendations with our community (in addition to pursuing any disciplinary actions that are warranted) as part of our continuing commitment to transparency.

Tag(s): Updates