A San Diego lawyer representing American sailors accused of abuse by Olympic men’s coach Mike Teti on Monday appealed to Congress to oversee the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s investigation of the allegations.
Advocate Willam J. Caldarelli sent a three-page letter that Bay Area newsgroups sent to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
He asked that USOPC’s oversight committees guarantee the process to be fair and transparent by having access to investigation reports into the case being prepared by an independent law firm. The USOPC hired national law firm Errant Fox in January to conduct an independent review of allegations that the Oakland-based rowing program had a culture of fear and distrust.
The investigation has focused on Teti, who coached at Cal from 2008-2018 and is leading the men’s eight contingent at the Tokyo Olympics, which opens on Friday.
Teti is a three-time Olympian who was part of the men’s eight boats that won the bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Games. He is the first person to be inducted into the US National Rowing Hall of Fame as an athlete and coach.
Teti, 64, left Cal in 2018 to handle the national team program, which uses the Golden Bears’ rowing facility on the Oakland Estuary.
Caldarelli said in the letter that Errant Fox’s review would include a confidential report for the USOPC’s “eyes only” as well as a separate report for USRowing, the sport’s national governing body.
According to the letter, several sailors refused to participate in Errant Fox’s investigation because they do not trust the people in charge.
“His reluctance and hesitation arose not only out of fear of possible retaliation, but also from a deep cynicism that the investigation process would have no dent and would result in no meaningful change or any action by the USOPC or USRowing against Mr. will be done,” the letter read.
Caldarelli told lawmakers that the concerns are supported by both the history of the investigation and the inquiry involving Teti, both as a coach at USrowing and collegiate levels.
“Although significant allegations have been made in the past, no meaningful action has been taken to address the athletes’ complaints and therefore the conduct continues,” the letter said. “Similar concerns about the lack of action taken in response to previous complaints were raised to Congressional Monitoring Committees on February 11, 2020.”
Caldarelli sent the letter a day after the Associated Press reported on nine rovers describing Teti’s threat. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they either want to stay in the game or fear retaliation. Rovers told the AP that he has direct knowledge of Tetti physically threatening athletes or verbally attacking them if they challenge him in any way.
One former Olympic rower told the AP, “He’ll be so wildly different from that guy that you’d think his uncle would actually kill you if you didn’t win…” He exists in the same man—and I like those. Have faith in both. There is a storm going on inside that man which is difficult for him to control.”
In April, Teti told Bay Area News Group that he would cooperate with Errant Fox investigators. “I believe I have coached fairly with the athletes’ well-being in mind,” the coach told the AP.
The men’s eighth competition begins on Saturday at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay.