USATF President Vin Lananna says he's visiting local associations for ideas on how to grow the sport.
Then-USATF President Vin Lananna visited San Diego in October 2017. Photo by Ken Stone

Vin Lananna will have to fight to regain the USA Track & Field presidency, using a grievance he filed more than a week ago.

Sunday morning in Staten Island, New York, the USATF board of directors met in executive session with the former Oregon track coach and TrackTown USA president.

According to David Greifinger, one of Lananna’s lawyers, the board gave Lananna a half-hour to explain why he should have his “temporary administrative leave” ended and be restored as elected president of the sport’s governing body.

But Lananna took only 10 minutes. And when he asked if the board had any questions, there were none, said Greifinger, who witnessed the session along with co-counsel Mark Lambert. The board decided to keep the status quo.

About eight hours after the closed board session, USATF Interim President Mike Conley sent Lananna a brief email.

It said: “Vin: After careful consideration and deliberation, the board tabled the discussion of rescission of their February 2018 actions [to put Lananna on leave] until a full and complete outcome is reached from the grievance process prescribed by USATF’s bylaws.”

Conley concluded: “Any questions from your counsel should be directed to Norm Wain,” general counsel of the Indianapolis-based sports body.

Attorney Greifinger, a former unpaid counsel to the USATF board, said that role is now being filled by Richard Young of Colorado Springs, who represented the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in cases against Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, Olympic sprinter Marion Jones and other gold medal winners involved in the BALCO doping scandal.

“I can promise you this guy’s getting paid,” Greifinger said.

Conley and other USATF officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Young or the Lananna matter.

The executive session was held in the Magnolia Room of the Hilton Garden Inn on the final day of the Toyota USATF Indoor Championships at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex.

The closed-door meeting included all board members as well as USATF CEO Max Siegel, Chief Operating Officer Renee Washington, Chief Financial Officer Sara Reese and Rick Adams of the United States Olympic Committee, Greifinger said in a phone interview.

Several people also listened in on the executive session via speaker phone, the Pacific Palisades lawyer said. They included former USATF board president Steve Miller and John Capriotti, a vice president of Nike — USATF’s deep-pockets sponsor.

Lananna, 66, was elected president by acclamation in late 2016, but the board removed him, citing “potential conflict of interest concerns” over a federal probe of how the 2021 IAAF World Championships were awarded to Eugene, Oregon, in 2015.

Lananna’s grievance — which has yet to be disclosed — was filed Feb. 15, just short of a year that USATF gives members for formal complaints, Greifinger said.

USATF’s grievance process is laid out in bylaws and summarized in an FAQ.

“The complaint must allege that a party has violated USATF’s Bylaws or Operating Regulations, the Sports Act, the IAAF eligibility rules, or had engaged in conduct detrimental to the best interests of Athletics or USATF,” says the FAQ. “The complaint must state factual obligations in concise, numbered paragraphs.”

Then the grievance goes to a mediator, appointed by the national office. If it isn’t resolved, it goes to a National Athletics Board of Review panel within three months.

Updated at 3:15 a.m. Feb. 26, 2019