Woody Paige: Good Riddance to Old Guard at USOC as Legislation for Athletes Passes

A lawsuit alleges that the Colorado Springs-based United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee fired Dr. William Moreau in May because he blew the whistle on the organization’s failure to protect a 15-year-old Paralympic athlete from sexual abuse.

 

 

 

Oct 3, 2020

Woody Paige woody.paige@gazette.com

https://gazette.com/sports/woody-paige-good-riddance-to-old-guard-at-usoc-as-legislation-for-athletes-passes/article_ceacef78-05d9-11eb-afc2-afea739c02d1.html

A lawsuit alleges that the Colorado Springs-based United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee fired Dr. William Moreau in May because he blew the whistle on the organization’s failure to protect a 15-year-old Paralympic athlete from sexual abuse.

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee executives and board of directors couldn’t be trusted as

far as 2016 Summer Games gold medalist Michelle Carter could shot-put them.

The Colorado Springs-based organization formerly known as the USOC was, for much too long, an

amalgamation of train wreck, dumpster fire and pig's breakfast.

Olympic leadership was an oxymoron.

Job One, according to the USOC’s own principles, was to protect American athletes. For decades our young

women and men were not safeguarded. Instead they were exposed, neglected, abandoned, mistreated,

disbelieved and sexually assaulted by coaches, trainers, doctors and Olympic authorities.

Ultimately, an act of Congress could change the culture, the canons, the command of the old USOC and create

a trustworthy new USOPC.

Maybe there’s hope for the future of Teams USA.

Athletes’ mettle, not medals, are responsible for the revolutionary improvements.

A month ago the United States Senate, after two years of examining the entire Olympic movement, passed the

Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act by, get this, unanimous consent. Republicans

and Democrats, as we know, never agree on anything.

And just three days ago the House of Representatives also passed the bill. Thanks be to Colorado’s own Sen.

Cory Gardner and Rep. Diana DeGette, who were staunch backers through the lengthy process.

The only remaining hurdle will be presidential approval. But even then, the bill could become law without

signature or by vote overriding a veto.

Three of the most important aspects of the EOP3A:

* The USOPC could be dissolved if the nonprofit establishment repeats despicable transgressions of the past.

*An independent oversight committee, chosen by Congress, will keep a vigil, requiring annual reports from

the USOPC and its sports governing bodies.

*The USOPC must increase to $20 million its annual contribution to the Denver-based U.S. Center For

SafeSport, a reach-out program for Olympic and amateur athletes who have been physically and/or mentally

abused.

Many other essential issues are covered in the far-ranging legislative action, but the overall purposes

concentrate on athletes' rights and protection.

Unfortunately, going back in time cannot be decreed. Hundreds, possibly thousands of gymnasts, swimmers

and other athletes will never get over, or receive enough apologies for, the exploitations, cruelty and criminal

acts they were subjected to and suffered through.

Fortunately, scum Larry Nassar will be imprisoned the rest of his life – and eternally.

Unfortunately, Congress couldn’t force former USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun to return his $2.4

million severance settlement. Blackmun – who faced serious allegations for mishandling, covering up and

refusing to make decisive and early responses in regards to the notorious gymnastics scandal – chose to

resign, or was pushed, from his prestigious position in 2018.

I had sought his firing, but Blackmun’s lackeys and lapdogs sheltered him and weren’t straightforwardly

honest in conversations.

I later demanded that the entire USOC board of directors quit.

Rather, the board – led by the then-temporary CEO and current chairman – approved the exorbitant

payment, which was considerably more money than many of the Olympic sports’ governing bodies receive

each year, and in addition to his $1.3 mil salary. The board claimed that one of the reasons it richly

compensated the ex-CEO was because "of health problems." Blackmun had been diagnosed with prostate

cancer and was in a Denver hospital post-surgery when I requested an interview, which was declined.

Blackmun, however, should have been fired justly “for cause" and the $2.4 million should have been provided

to SafeSport.

Blackmun, who has been mum for almost two years, may not be out of trouble yet. Two senators who led the

fight in Congress for the athletes’ empowerment act asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to

investigate Blackmun for “making false statements and misleading Congress."

The USOPC board chairman did “retire," as did several directors without accepting blame.

There is a new CEO, who is too often not forthcoming in public, but the organizations’ vice president of

communications left in February, and other executives have been hired.

The board now has nine former Olympic athletes – from sports such as table tennis to skiing, bobsled,

rowing, swimming and Paralympic track and field – as members.

Out with the old USOC and its myriad mistakes and illegalities. In with the new law, new representation of

true Olympians on the USOPC board and new safeties and securities for all amateur athletes in America.

Mercifully.

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