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Lawsuit: Oracle Team USA let rules-breaking grinder sail in America's Cup match

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SAN DIEGO — Top officials with Oracle Team USA knew grinder Matt Mitchell didn't illegally alter a catamaran used in warmup regattas but let a rules-breaking sailor compete in the 2013 America's Cup, according to a federal lawsuit.

Matt Mitchell of Auckland, New Zealand, is suing Oracle Team USA for $400,000 in damages. Mitchell, one of several Oracle sailors punished in the biggest cheating scandal in the regatta's history, was suspended for the first four races of the match, effectively ending his America's Cup career.

Mitchell contends management knew grinder Simeon Tienpont broke rules yet let him sail. Tienpont operated the complicated hydrofoil system and was key to Oracle's stunning comeback victory over Team New Zealand.

Syndicate CEO Russell Coutts, a five-time Cup winner, felt Mitchell was innocent, according to exhibits in the lawsuit.

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