June 20, 2018

OLYMPIANS RISING BLASTS USOC WHITEWASH “COMMISSION” PROPOSAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kristie Meyer

Cicero Political LLC

 

Phone: 561-846-0068        

 

Email: kristiemeyer@ciceropolitical.com   

 

OLYMPIANS RISING BLASTS USOC

WHITEWASH COMMISSION PROPOSAL

 

On Friday, June 14th, the USOC in a Friday press release dump announced its intent to form another internal committee to review itself and its supervision of 49 American National Governing Bodies of sport, with a focus on how the USOC can “better engage with the athletes it serves”.  While it is a hopeful sign that the USOC, after all the sexual abuse scandals and the chronic underfunding of America’s amateur athletes, recognizes that it is not getting the job done, this recently announced review does not pass the smell test.

 

Multimillion-dollar settlements related to sexual abuse of athletes, related Congressional hearings and widespread media criticism of the organization are the result of chronic USOC leadership negligence that maintained a culture ignoring systemic institutional abuse of our athletes, while wining and dining themselves, hiring their cronies, and paying themselves exorbitant salaries.  It stretches credulity that that same broken USOC leadership and culture can now set up and run a credible internal process for reviewing itself.   The purpose of this review clearly is not to catalyze needed reform of the organization; it is instead a transparent attempt to fend off meaningful external review and reform.

 

Described as a cornerstone of the new USOC “Athlete Safety & Advocacy Action Plan,” the USOC states that the working group will be “fully formed later this month and is expected to make a series of recommendations that will be implemented over the coming months.” Incredibly, we are told that the USOC leadership announced this effort with no meaningful input from its own ATHLETES ADVISORY COMMITTEE.

 

The weight of evidence is clear.  The USOC treats our athletes like packaged products and cannot police itself.  Recent Congressional hearings of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, highlighted how the USOC leadership has put the monetary interests of its administration ahead of the safety and support of our athletes.  Instead of protecting the brave and innocent, it protects its own interests.  This new internally-conceived review follows that pattern of self-dealing.  

The problems with the USOC are so severe that it may not be a going concern in the future, due to potential legal liabilities associated with the gymnastics sexual abuse scandal.  Already, the Trustees of Michigan State University have agreed to pay out nearly $500 million.  It is conceivable that the USOC and other NGBs will collapse under the weight of similar hundreds and maybe thousands of current and prospective sexual abuse judgments.

 

Ultimately, real reform will only come from a Congressional rewriting of the Amateur Sports Act to require a wholesale change in USOC leadership and culture, to ensure that in the future better, safer processes and practices are developed and enforced to protect athletes from sexual predators, and to provide the needed financial and training resources our brave athletes need and deserve. 

 

The first step in this journey needs to be a comprehensive and independent review of the USOC culture, leadership, practices, procedures, fundraising, and spending priorities.  We respectfully call on Congress to act by continuing to hold hearings on the many problems at the USOC, to sponsor an independent commission to do a top to bottom review of the USOC, its practices, leadership and culture, and to work with us and other concerned athletes and parents to permanently reform the organization.  Ultimately, Congress should re-write the Amateur Sports Act in a manner that puts athletes first, not lasts.  Our athletes deserve no less.

 

Olympians Rising OLY Leadership Group

KAYLA HARRISON Olympic Gold Medalist Judo

CAROLINE LIND Olympic Gold Medalist Rowing

BODE MILLER Olympic Medalist Alpine Skiing

JIMMY PEDRO Olympic Medalist

AUGUST WOLF Olympian and USOC Foundation Trustee

www.OlympiansRising.org

SAFETY, EQUITY, TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

 

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Kristie Meyer at 561-846-0068, or email kristiemeyer@ciceropolitical.com.


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