USA Badminton, the sport’s national governing body, was first audited by the United States Olympic Committee three years ago. The USOC recommended stronger internal controls and improved reporting on its finances, among other fixes, and it awarded USA Badminton an audit rating of 11; a rating of 0 is ideal. Three years later, the USOC did another audit on USA Badminton, completed on Oct. 15. This time, the NGB got a 46. To put that valueless number in perspective, the average audit rating for similar NGBs is 15.
Deadspin has obtained a copy of the audit report, which makes a series of recommendations, and identifies five areas of high risk, including background checks, final grant reporting, SafeSport training, and training verification. The audit was first reported on by the Orange County Register.
The first four issues of high risk pertain to USA Badminton’s handling of background checks and its noncompliance with the USOC’s SafeSport regulations. According to the audit, USA Badminton did not complete the required background checks on doctors, trainers, and administrators that they hired. The USOC randomly picked a 25-person sample group, and only 14 of them had current background checks on record with USA Badminton. USOC rules require criminal background checks every two years.
More concerningly, an even smaller percentage of USA Badminton employees had undergone mandatory SafeSport training. When employees did finish it, USA Badminton apparently allowed them to input their own certification date into the system, and failed to verify that the training was completed in a timely manner.
USA Badminton responded to all of the background check and SafeSport points by pointing out that they hired an operations manager last month to oversee and track background checks and SafeSport verifications. Any employee found in violation will theoretically be suspended until they are in compliance.
The audit also pointed out the handling of a $20,000 Paralympics grant that USA Badminton was awarded in 2017. According to the audit, USA Badminton only accounted for $8,256 of that amount with travel receipts, and only $2,877 was traceable to USA Badminton’s general ledger. USA Badminton had been dinged for its expense reporting policy in 2015, and most of the USOC’s prior findings were in regards to USA Badminton’s accounting practices.
The USOC demanded the remaining $17,123 from USA Badminton, who claimed that they cleared the matter up with the USOC in an email chain on Oct. 12., but no details about those emails were in the audit. Deadspin asked USA Badminton for clarification on what happened with the Paralympics grant money and was told, “USA Badminton has provided all of the necessary documentation regarding the 2017 Paralympic grant to the USOC and there is no issue.” They declined to provide said documentation, and a spokesperson said, “I can confirm that USA Badminton spoke with the USOC today and they confirmed that there is no longer a problem with the 2017 Paralympic Grant. The issue originally stemmed from restructuring of the accounting and financials at USA Badminton in 2017, which led to delays in the supporting materials, but now has been resolved.”
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky gave a similar comment to Deadspin, saying, “USAB provided supporting documentation that identified the expenses and have since made changes to how they track the expenses so they can be more easily identified.” Sandusky did not respond when asked for more details about exactly how Badminton accounted for the missing money and what it had been spent on.
The Register reported that USOC vice president for athlete safety Wendy Guthrie told USA Badminton they had 30 days to implement a handful of measures in order to keep from getting decertified as a national governing body. USA Badminton chief executive Jeff Dyrek told the Register that they took the findings seriously, and that they were in the process of certifying everyone.
USA Badminton’s audit is particularly relevant given the tumultuous year they’ve had. They initially scheduled the U.S. Junior Championships at a Chicago-area facility owned by Rick Butler, who has been banned by USA Volleyball in 1995 over sexual abuse allegations made by several former players. In July, youth coach and 2008 Olympian Bob Malaythong was arrested in Santa Clara, California, on “suspicion of annoying/molesting a minor, and sexual assault” after park rangers found him in his car with one of his 17-year-old students. According to USA Badminton, Malaythong was immediately suspended after his arrest.
The full letter about SafeSport as well as the audit are below: