Candidate to run World Sailing demands more transparency

SAN DIEGO (AP) " Businessman Kim Andersen of Denmark is running for president of World Sailing, saying the governing body is at a crossroads under incumbent Carlo Croce.

While wanting to increase the sport's visibility worldwide and protect its spot in the Olympic lineup, Andersen is calling for more transparency in how the organization manages the sport and its finances.

"How we guide and manage our sport has been very poor the last four years and we are lacking a lot of leadership," Andersen told The Associated Press by phone. "The reason for that is a lot of changes in organization and management. It's still the responsibility of the existing board to be able to make the right decision and be able to run the organization."

Andersen is running against Croce and Paul Henderson of Canada, who was president of the organization from 1994-2004 and is a former member of the International Olympic Committee. Voting for the four-year term is Sunday in Barcelona.

Andersen, who is vice president of construction and engineering company MT Hojgaard and active in the Dragon class, said World Sailing needs a "transparent decision-making process."

"Management systems in World Sailing must stand up to scrutiny," he said. "World Sailing must be accountable to its stakeholders. World Sailing need to preserve and strengthen the integrity of its financial and administrative system."

Andersen said Croce has done a "quite poor" job.

"He's wanted to change a lot of things and that's a part of the problem," Andersen said.

World Sailing is on its third CEO since October 2014. There have been several controversies under Croce's watch, including intense scrutiny on the international jury that handed down harsh penalties at the 2013 America's Cup, sailing being dropped from the Paralympics and youth regattas being held in countries that discriminated against Israeli sailors.

Henderson criticized World Sailing last week for a lack of transparency in its finances.

Andersen agrees, to a point.

"Of course, all the financial issues need to be open and transparent. Just the fact we're having a discussion of finances; we should never ever do that," he said. "It should never be necessary. Paul is having a lot of issues where he is pointing at issues we should never have to point at. I would go about it a different way, but he has a point."

Henderson has raised questions about a sponsorship deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

"I can say I'm confused what actually is done with the Gazprom deal and the money," Andersen said. "Paul's investigation shows there's something we need to look into but I don't have reason to believe something wrong has happened. But the lack of transparency makes everybody suspicious. That's the real issue. That should never have happened. If you have a well-managed organization and are transparent, we shouldn't have this discussion because it should be transparent."

The AP requested an interview with Croce. A London public relations firm that represents him responded with a statement attributed to Croce.

"This year has been significant for World Sailing on a number of fronts, including further improving and modernizing our governance, and I am pleased with the progress we have made in this important area," Croce is quoted as saying.

He says he wants to ensure that World Sailing uses the "best practices from the corporate and sporting worlds." If re-elected, he adds, he wants to cement sailing's place in the Olympics and ensure parasailing's return to the Paralympics.

At 59, Andersen is the youngest of the three candidates. Henderson is 81 and Croce is 71.

Andersen thinks he has a good chance of winning.

"I think I can make a difference, with long my management background," he said. "It's something you can fix with a lot of hard work but it's not difficult."

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Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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