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America’s Cup sailor faces five-year ban

America’s Cup sailor Dirk de Ridder was reportedly suspended from sanctioned events for five years by sailing’s international governing body.

Two people with knowledge of the decision spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the suspension is being appealed.

Unless a review board or the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturns the suspension, it effectively ends de Ridder’s sailing career. The 41-year-old would be banned from the 2017 America’s Cup. He also would lose a $500,000 contract to sail in the Volvo Ocean Race, which begins later this year.

The reported suspension stems from an international jury punishment of members of America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA, including de Ridder, after an investigation of the illegal modification of boats used in warm-up regattas.

De Ridder said via email from his home in the Netherlands that he couldn’t comment on his case. He was banished from the 2013 America’s Cup and Oracle Team USA was docked two points by the international jury four days before the opening races of the regatta on San Francisco Bay in September.

Paul Henderson, a former ISAF president and former International Olympic Committee member, told the AP by phone from his Toronto home that he’d never heard of such a harsh penalty and that the case raises serious questions about whether de Ridder and others received due process.

“If you’re [Olympic sprinter] Ben Johnson and you won a gold medal and then got caught doping and were only banned for two years, and A-Rod [Major League Baseball player Alex Rodriguez] is only out for a year, and then there’s somebody that it’s questionable whether he had anything to do with it, I don’t understand,” Henderson said.

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