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Bernie Wilson uses deep institutional knowledge to break news on sailing dispute

AP Sports writer Bernie Wilson leveraged his 33 years of sailing coverage to break the news that two-time Olympic medalist JJ Fetter wrote a letter calling for the resignations of U.S. Sailing’s CEO, president and any other board member who supports a federal lawsuit against a sailing foundation. Within two days one board member had resigned and it was revealed that a major donor paused its $5 million pledge to the national governing body until the legal matter is resolved. Wilson obtained Fetter’s letter from a long-time source and confirmed it with her. Fetter said she sent the letter and although she declined further comment, said: “I do stand by everything I wrote.” Wilson also reached two former U.S. Sailing officials for comment. U.S. Sailing’s lawsuit seeks damages from One America, which had been a partner and financial supporter but now focuses on directly supporting athletes. The letter offered the most pointed criticism yet of U.S. Sailing’s lawsuit against the America One Foundation and three of its principals, including former Olympic team boss Paul Cayard. The controversy is the latest upheaval for a once-dominant U.S. Olympic team that has faded to an afterthought on the world stage after winning just one medal in the last three Olympics — a plight that could continue during the Paris Games. Wilson’s exclusive was picked up by ESPN.com and Scuttlebutt Sailing News, one of the most widely read sailing websites, and was posted on the website of Fetter’s hometown paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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