CRBN Gate 2.0 – More News With Pickleball’s Most Controversial Paddle
It feels like it is hard to go more than a couple of weeks without some controversy in pickleball. With a brand new conversation being brought up this week regarding Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in the sport, news came out on Thursday via the Dink’s podcast with DJ Young that the PPA was banning use of the CRBN paddle for this Austin event, some might say CRBN-Gate 2.0.
Young said on the podcast the ban was the result of testing that determined approximately 60% of the paddles were failing deflection testing. The Kitchen has since clarified that the CRBN paddle is not being banned and that an executive with the PPA has made it clear that players are welcome to use the paddle, but they will be required to have further testing done on their paddle after the event if they play with it. The consequences of a failed further test was not released publicly but an email sent to pros Thursday afternoon outlined that a failed test could result in forfeiting ranking points and prize money.
The Kitchen captioned their post on Instagram with “Get your news from sources that actually know what’s going on. Here is the real CRBN situation.” Frankly, we have no reason to doubt what DJ Young said on the PicklePod as to what he was told. Thomas Wilson essentially confirmed what DJ said in his comment on a Memes of Pickleball post about the whole situation. We have to wonder if the PPA backtracked on their decision to try to ban the paddle quietly after seeing a lot of negative backlash. But that’s just speculation on our part. Practically, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.
That’s the issue with this whole thing, though. If there was ever a motto for the PPA, it would read something like “Transparency, what is it good for?” In these situations, we like to think about how more established pro sports leagues would deal with these types of issues. That’s not to say pro sports leagues don’t have their fair share of fumbles, especially when it comes to transparency, but the PPA is rarely transparent.
Putting these measures in place for only the CRBN paddle without releasing the process for testing, test results and the test results for other paddles tested is wholly inadequate. Everyone knows the CRBN had potential issues but everyone is also quite confident other paddles are an issue. There is also a strong belief out there that players have been or probably still are modifying their own paddles outside of approved standards. Allegedly, the Legacy paddle was tested and passed, but that information is not coming from any official PPA source.
Have we learned nothing from the original CRBN-Gate situation?
It’s so on brand for the PPA that they have not put out their own statement. The only thing issued publicly was their brief statement through the Kitchen based on what they were told by a “PPA executive”. When the PPA decided to do whatever they did with CRBN, whether banning or requiring further testing, they should have come out publicly with a statement explaining what they were doing and why. The PPA is probably mad at DJ Young for bringing this all to light on a podcast, but that’s on them for not getting out in front of this on their own.
Now, CRBN came out with their own statement late Thursday evening or very early Friday morning, depending on where you live, attempting to clarify the situation. The statement is fine enough. It states that USA Pickleball only tested one, well used CRBN 2X series paddle and it exceeded deflection specifications, which contradicts DJ Young saying he was told that multiple new and used paddles were tested and came back “too hot”. According to CRBN, USA Pickleball told them this issue was not isolated to their brand – this would check out from all the information we have gathered over the past few months and what is out there publicly. The statement goes on to say that due to this one, isolated case, the PPA independently chose to take action.
The CRBN statement quotes an email the PPA sent to all its pros on Thursday afternoon: “All CRBN Power models used for professional play must be onsite tested and sticker-marked before being used in a match. At the conclusion of the tournament, CRBN Power models will be sent to a USA Pickleball lab site for additional testing. If a paddle comes back over any of the legal specifications, all points and at-risk prize money amassed at the event where the paddle was used will be forfeited.”
We are all for getting this paddle stuff in check. By all accounts, there are problems with the CRBN once again and, as a result, the company has had to try to explain themselves through a well-written statement. Frankly, we do not have a lot of sympathy for CRBN. Their statement sounds well and good, but this is the second time their paddles have had issues in the last year that appear legitimate. However, the issue we have with this whole fiasco is that there are other paddle companies and players doing questionable things. We pointed this out last summer with the original CRBN-Gate. With this incident, this is the second time that CRBN has been put on blast while other companies are probably doing the same thing and going unpunished. Last year, there was evidence JOOLA had a paddle that was testing over the grit limit and nothing was done about it by USA Pickleball.
So, this all comes back to the PPA’s lack of transparency. There are straightforward questions that should have straightforward answers:
1. What testing was done on CRBN paddles?
2. What were the results of the testing done on CRBN paddles?
3. Has any testing been done on other, non-CRBN paddles?
4. If so, what were the results of testing done on other, non-CRBN paddles?
There are other, less straightforward questions beyond the above that need to be answered. Questions such as why did certain paddles get tested and not others. There are far more than whispers in pro circles about certain players using illegal or modified paddles, why are those not being tested as well? Surely, the PPA is aware of who are the potential culprits. Unless they did get tested and, if that is the case, the public should be aware so we don’t have all these unanswered questions.
Beyond being unfair to CRBN, by choosing not to test other modified or illegal paddles, the PPA is actually increasing the competitive advantage for those players by only testing for CRBN and not all other paddles. It shouldn’t be this hard.
The PPA has a Paddle Compliance and Testing Policy, but it does not address anything related to deflection. As usual, everything is being done behind closed doors and this that’s exactly the problem DJ Young had with the situation. We can likely answer why the PPA has taken this approach so hastily. Much like the original CRBN-Gate, it is almost certainly a business decision, with the word business being used broadly. Still, the timing of this CRBN situation is particularly odd given that the PPA, MLP and USA Pickleball announced a partnership to clamp down on paddle testing to create better standards starting with data collection at the Daytona MLP event at the end of the month. Why is the PPA choosing to crack down now when there seemed to be a clear development process that was outlined just last week?
It is well known that the PPA caters to its very top pros, namely Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters. The above screenshot was taken from Collin Johns’ sharing a Memes of Pickleball post on his Instagram story with the caption “I’m sure we will be hearing all about a “bad batch” again just like last year…#credibility.” We could have surmised this without an Instagram story, but Collin makes our jobs really easy for figuring out the who and why the PPA took such swift action against CRBN. This is just more NML educated speculation, not any insider information, for those concerned.
Although the PPA, USA Pickleball and MLP carefully set out a plan for action to address the paddle frenzy in pro pickleball, the PPA decided that waiting any longer was too long. In their haste, they have repeated the errors of the original CRBN-Gate as we see more favoritism in the business of pickleball and CRBN bearing the sole brunt of the consequences. It’s not that we don’t think CRBN should have consequences, if they are doing illegal things or manufacturing their paddles in a way that allows their players to make their own modifications that lead to illegal things. It’s that we think this selective punishment of one specific company is as much of a double standard as you’ll see anywhere.
So many questions. So few answers. What the hell is new?
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30 thoughts on “CRBN Gate 2.0 – More News With Pickleball’s Most Controversial Paddle”
You forgot the “Who” in the list of questions. Who did the testing?
Did you see Don Stanley’s response on the The Kitchen. Something like “where is this coming from”. It was as if he didn’t know anything about it.
Also Connor Pardoe’s response “Thanks for the update” could be taken 2 ways – he didn’t know about DJ’s comments or he was confirming the paddle wasn’t “banned” – though, like DJ said, it was essentially banned.
I don’t know what the on-site testing is supposed to test. I thought there wasn’t a way to do on-site testing for dwell/deflection. If so, is the on-site testing very meaningful? Especially if the paddle will have to be retested after the match – it must mean the on-site testing means nothing.
If I was a pro – even sponsored – I’d go get one of the other paddles like 6-0 or Legacy that plays like the CRBN X. Then hold up my CRBN in interviews/photo shoots.
I do have sympathy for CRBN because they are being singled out without any transparency to what is going on. And a lot of FB posters seem to think it is a legal ban by the USAP and they can’t use it in sanctioned tournaments. So word of mouth has completely distorted what is going on and CRBN could be impacted by the untruths. Not fair to them but probably one of the goals in this strange business.
Dear waggish, I’m being good and keeping quiet. But this posting is a dream come true. 😉
Honestly the legality of the paddles you mentioned is questionable too.
Lots of legality questions all over the place, which is why Waggish mentioned them and why we don’t understand why there is not more transparency about those paddles – if they were even tested.
It looks like Don Stanley is still going in the comments as of 25 minutes ago saying what DJ said was fake news. It furthers our speculation that the PPA backtracked on this initial decision once it came out and realized banning it was going too far. But, who knows? Where did you see Connor’s comment? If you have that, we would appreciate you forwarding that to us.
On-site testing is only grit right now. Deflection needs a machine that is quite expensive, which is why they need to take the paddles away for further testing to do that most likely.
No sympathy for CRBN might not be completely fair as they keep getting singled out so we agree with you there. They are trying to keep up. It’s just there appears to be a pattern of decisions on their end and this has been talked about for a while at this point, which was a similar situation last year with their grit issues.
Oh my goodness, such hypocrisy. This needs to stop now. Transparency is crucial. This just isn’t fair to anyone involved, including the casual player thinking all is well and then spending hard earned cash on these paddles only to feel undeserved embarrassment for playing with one now with their friends. This is sickening. Why would they do this and not a blanket type statement that all paddles would be tested instead of one particular brand. It brings undue shame to a sport that is helping to bring people together and not divide them like everywhere else we turn. Come on PPA, get consistent and stop lambasting one manufacturer. It only makes one wonder if there are monetary reasons behind the scenes adding more disparagment to the confidence of what’s supposed to be an independent body. You can do better.
If we had to guess, it is both player driver and monetarily driven, with the primary driver for this specific instance being the Johns brothers. Really, the Johns brothers are their business, mainly Ben, and that leads to money. They are interrelated.
To be honest, I lost a little bit of respect for The Kitchen for how they’ve approached this. It looks like they’re using this situation to take a shot at The Dink for whatever reason. I get they’re rivals in content creation, but it makes them look petty. Nothing in their post contradicts anything DJ said on the PicklePod nor did it add any transparency, for the reasons you mentioned in your post. There’s still a lot we don’t know, and the fact that players have to submit their CRBN paddle for offsite testing and could lose the points and money they earned sends a clear message that the PPA does not want players using this paddle but also does not want to have to say they are banning it either. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too and they are using The Kitchen as their mouthpiece to do it.
Pro pickleball, its regulatory bodies, and overall procedures and communications have a long way to go. This has a negative impact on pros, amateurs, and paddle companies and makes the sport look bush league.
Bad look for The Kitchen for sure. This isn’t about them. They decided to try to make it about them. Was cringe.
The only thing DJ said that has now been somewhat refuted is that the paddles were banned for the tournament. Again, we speculated that the PPA may have backtracked on a decision to ban them but we have no insider info. Just putting puzzle pieces together. It doesn’t make sense DJ would say I spoke to a PPA person on the phone and they told me this, when they didn’t tell him that. That would just make the PPA really mad for him to lie about that. What would his angle be for lying about it? Definitely agree there is a long way things have to go to improve procedures and communications.
I think DJ misspoke when he mentioned the ban, because later in the pod he mentioned that they told him if he played with it, he’d have to submit it for testing. So I think he knew it wasn’t an official ban, but with that kind of ruling, that’s the message he took from it and I believe the message that was intended to be sent.
That is possible
I honestly could care less about paddles. What I take away from this is how annoying The Kitchen has become. What do you mean get your news from sources that actually know what’s going on? Are you saying DJ was lying? Are you blaming the Pickle Pod for letting him speak? Neither make sense. Their posts have been getting more inflammatory and the hunger for power and control is palpable.
As we have said, we just don’t understand why DJ would lie in this situation. It doesn’t add up. To be clear, we have not communicated with DJ nor have we ever communicated with DJ about stuff. He’s not a pro we are in contact with, in case anyone may infer we are his mouth piece
Thank you for your time and posting. Great information. To the pro players out there. Would establishing a Player’s Union, creating standards, and setting criteria for tournaments (parking, breaks between matches, rest areas, paddle testing, etc.), be beneficial? Remember, this is YOUR sport, without you, there are no PPA, APP, MLP, or Nationals. They all use you to make money, they are just businesses. You are pickleball. Rant over. 🙂
I tried waggish, I really tried. 😉
You tried your best, David!
Agree with everyone who says The Kitchen just behaving badly. DJ said something like “I just found out I’m not allowed to play with it, but *if I were to play with it*, I’d have to…” and then listed conditions; they talked for several minutes about the pros and cons of using it. People are welcome to complain about equal treatment across brand, but he never said it was banned.
Unrelated — did Querry quit pb? That’s not snark, I’m genuinely curious as I don’t follow him on social media. Has he said anything lately about ever playing again?
Querrey has not quit PB. He still posts about it on his social media now and again. He’ll play at MLP next weekend. He said earlier in the year he only has 5 tournaments scheduled. That’s concerning from a getting better standpoint but he is so talented so who knows where he’ll be at this next event.
thanks for the info!
Are there people out there who still HAD respect for The Kitchen and the literal sociopath who founded it?? What rock have people been living under they haven’t seen the too numerous to count insane ramblings and rantings Jared has gone on for absolutely no reason at all like he’s some god of pb and we should all worship him?! Get your heads out of the sand everyone and get with the program. The Kitchen and it’s narcissistic creators should’ve been cancelled forever ago and if you didn’t already think that you’re part of the reason pickleball is littered with terrible people and morality akin to a dumpster fire.
The graphic promoting TheDinkPickleball podcast says “Paddle Banned” Episode 46 so I think that is what The Kitchen was referring to.
I’m not impressed with that 60% number. The claim is it was a mix of new and used paddles. But if “someone [still unnamed]” buy 4 new and 6 very well used by a pro power player and 6 of those don’t pass “some [still unknown]” test – you figure it out.
Sophie: I know the other paddles have the same delamination problem. But they are not being singled out so why not play with them.
I love the idea of all the money PPA could pour into Nationals but the decision-making process may not be as much of a partnership as USAP assumes if this is any fore-shadowing.
So much wrong in this scenario. Seems like PPA is trying to single out CRBN but I don’t understand the motivation (either time). It does feel like they are trying to have it both ways: we aren’t banning it but we are taking it offsite for unspecified testing. With neither the existing issue with the paddle clearly explained (what is wrong with it) or outlining what the players rights are as the relate to testing results and appeals, it seems like it is a terrible position for the pros who may be required to return money/points (and the reputational hit they would take) based on something they have little control over and are unable to monitor themselves. Given PPAs lack of transparency on the issue thus far, I don’t know that I would trust a report of a failed test. And don’t get me started on The Kitchen’s announcement. As someone who plays with a CRBN paddle, I neither understood what their “news” meant (it literally offered nothing new to the story) and immediately noticed the paddle they chose to show was not the implicated paddle potentially adding to confusion for the brand.
Lots of confusion all around.
So thinking about how pickleball moves forward from the never ending circus of banned/semi-banned/whatever paddles. In my opinion this is how it should work:
USAP or whatever governing body finally lands on top of the dogpile publishes their paddle requirements. One of which is all paddles must have a serial number that can easily establish the year it was made its batch etc. They then have paddles submitted by the manufactures for approval. They do a robust approval process. Once a paddle is approved, its approved for 1 calendar year. At the beginning of the next year any paddles that have had complaints made against them throughout the year are reviewed. These complaints are shared with the paddle company quarterly, but no paddles are banned during the year. Colins’ brother or whoever has a problem will just need to suck it up for 12 months.
What does this do?
1) It gives paddle manufactures time to address problems.
2) It gives consumers (you know the guys and gals that don’t get a box of paddles shipped to them for free from the companies?) time to play with the paddle they purchased. Figuring that after a year or so of active use most paddles are probably starting to give out anyway.
It will be interesting to see what they come up with. Something needs to change.
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I wonder if it is any coincidence that CRBN does not advertise (aka give any money to PPA) through the PPA. With paddle brands Selkrik, Onix, Paddletek, & Joola all pouring money to the PPA, it is no wonder CRBN is targeted. As long as you are lining the pockets of Pardoe and the PPA, it appears those paddle brands will not face the same scrutiny.
Probably not a coincidence.
Very poor job of handling this issue. This most certainly makes the PPA look unprofessional. How can we have any faith in this organization?
It can be hard to sometimes.