Controversy at Adult Nationals 2013

April 23, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)

The 2013 USA Badminton Adult Nationals Tournament took place March 29-31 at Orange County Badminton Club. There were exciting matches, such as the Men’s Doubles Final with Howard Bach and Hock Lai Lee against Tony Gunawan and Christian Yahya Christianto. It was fun to see the World Champion partners try to attack each other with a National Title at stake.

Unfortunately Adult Nationals was also affected by a controversy regarding athlete eligibility. USA Badminton in its Vision and Mission (see USAB Bylaws page 3) is committed to serving all badminton players and the development of the sport for everyone. It saddens us all when any athlete cannot compete, just as it saddens us if any athlete’s attempts to reach goals for which they have trained are blocked by an ineligible player.

Because one player was declared ineligible before the tournament began and a second during the tournament, USAB would like to initiate an open review inviting comments from all members of the Badminton Community on rules regarding eligibility and rights of athletes.

There will be no discussion of the specifics of the two cases from Adult Nationals while any Grievance Proceedings or Legal Actions are outstanding as this could jeopardize the rights of those involved.

RIGHTS OF ATHLETES – Athletes have a right to compete under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. “Amateur athlete” means an athlete who meets the eligibility standards established by the national governing body or paralympic sports organization for the sport in which the athlete competes.  The Act  does not govern all amateur sports events in the USA. It does cover all matters pertaining to United States participation in the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, and the Pan-American Games, including representation of the United States in the games. The USOC acts  as the coordinating body for amateur athletic activity in the United States  directly related to international amateur athletic competition.

USAB has By-Laws which detail the rights of athletes, including grievance procedures (see USAB Bylaws – Section #15 page 35) relating to all matters about which grievances may be filed. Grievances are heard within 10 days of filing or in the case of emergency may be heard within 48 hours. In the controversy occurring at Adult Nationals the players on both sides were advised of their rights to file grievances. In addition USAB maintains an Athletes Advisory Council with five members who are available to all USAB member athletes regarding any issues. Athletes on both sides of the controversy were afforded access to members of the USAB AAC.

CURRENT  ELIGIBILITY TO COMPETE – There are many different badminton events which occur  in the USA.

1)      BWF sanctioned events (e.g. US Open, Bill Graham Miami Pan Am International). Any USAB member who has BWF membership (must be obtained through USAB) and is in good standing with both USAB and BWF may enter. Any BWF member, in good standing, who is not a USAB member, who is still under the jurisdiction of another National Association and is residing in the USA may enter through their association. To enter a BWF tournament under the flag of the USA a foreign player must complete the full process of transfer of Association – change of jurisdiction (see Badminton World federation General Competition Regulations # 8 & # 9) before being eligible. The application procedure and process is also published on the USAB website under “BWF New Player Process & Transfer Form” – Click this link:

Unsanctioned Tournaments – There are many unsanctioned badminton tournaments in the USA. USAB neither facilitates nor forbids entry in any such tournament. A USAB member may play in such events with no consequences, and is bound by whatever rules or regulations the tournament sponsor employs. The rights, including grievance processes of USAB are not available to any athlete for any problems which arise in unsanctioned tournaments.

USAB sanctioned Tournaments - USAB sanctions many tournaments. These tournaments (with the exception of Adult Nationals and Team USA Adult Trials– see below) are open to any player who has a valid USAB membership. There are no restrictions on residency, citizenship status, visa status. All rights including grievance processes are available to athletes for problems which arise in sanctioned tournaments.

Ranking Tournaments – USAB designates certain tournaments as ranking tournaments for the purpose of establishing adult rankings which govern seeding for sanctioned events. These tournaments have the same eligibility requirements and rights for athletes as general sanctioned tournaments.

Adult Nationals – USAB runs one tournament to determine the U.S. Adult Champions. Eligibility is restricted to citizens, Green Card holders (permanent residents), Visa holders who have a) been in residence for the period of one year or 12 consecutive months. This has been consistently interpreted as 365 days since the time of entry to the beginning of the tournament. That is, for a tournament starting March 29, 2013, a player must have been in residence in the USA since March 29, 2012.  Twelve consecutive months has been consistently interpreted to allow brief trips outside the USA for family visits, vacation, or participating in competitions. Absence for full months or multiple months is not considered consecutive months of residence.

Team USA Adult Trials – USAB conducts Team USA Adult Trials for the Sudirman Cup, Thomas/Uber Cup, Pan Am Championships Team Event, Pan Am Games. These trials are limited to U.S. citizens only.

Because USAB wants all athletes to have fair access to badminton events, the  Board of Directors, Tournament Advisory Group, and Legal/Ethics Committee invite all members of the U.S. badminton community to send commentary on these rules to: by May 1, 2013.

All constructive remarks will be considered in a re-evaluation of these policies.