Updated: Oct 15, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Linda Saetre, Strategic Advisor
OLYMPIANS RISING OFFERS CONGRESS PRODUCTIVE REFORM RECOMMENDATIONS TO EMBATTLED USOC
New York 8 OCT 2018- OLYMPIANS RISING attended the 4th Senate Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on Sexual Abuse of Athletes, and conferred in private meetings with several Members of Congress/their staffs, as well as three House and Senate Subcommittee Staffs to offer policy recommendations on reform the U.S. Olympic Committee.
This was Olympians Rising second round of meetings with Subcommittees and several Senators. Joining Founder August Wolf OLY and Strategic Advisor Linda Saetre were several prominent stakeholders who offered unique and at time heart wrenching perspective of coaches, athletes and administrators regarding the institutional issues confronting the USOC and NGBs.
OLYMPIANS RISING’s cooperation with Congress was expressed in a document entitled:
“Recommendations to Congress: Reforming the U.S. Olympic Committee to Ensure Health and Livelihood of Athletes.”
This 15 page report was distributed in meetings to Senate and House Members and staff, as well as Congressional Subcommittee Staffs holding hearings on sexual abuse of athletes. These common-sense recommendations are generally in line with much of the previous testimony by USOC Athletes Advisory Committee Chair Han Xiou, as well as the suggestions made at the October 3rd Senate Commerce Committee hearing by Ranking Member Sen. Richard Blumenthal; all of these initiatives were generally supported on the record by four NGB CEOs testifying at the Senate Commerce October 3 hearing chaired by Senator Jerry Moran.
Policy recommendations include:
Establishment of an independent Inspector General Office at the USOC (in line with standard practice at most Federally chartered 501 (c) (3) corporations)
Strengthening the USOC Ombudsman Office through establishment of a Special Victims Counsel/ Advocacy function independent of the USOC
The strengthening of USOC healthcare insurance provision to American athletes
Whether the new leaders of the USOC, Chairman Susanne Lyons and CEO Sarah Hirshland seize the moment and adopt these reforms is an open question. In Olympians Rising’s opinion, their official statements and lack of suggestions to concrete policy changes do not bode well for meaningful internal reform of the USOC and U.S. amateur athletes.
Olympians Rising has previously stated that the unilateral USOC Board appointment of Susanne Lyons (a corporate sports marketing USOC insider who was publicly flogged in the second Congressional hearing by Congressman Buddy Carter, who demanded her resignation of her then interim position as USOC CEO) whose negligence as a Board Member since 2009 amid demonstrable institutional malfeasance by the USOC executive leadership, makes a mockery of any real expressions of desire for reform by the wayward USOC Board. It was on Ms. Lyons watch that the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal endured until gymnast Rachel Denhollander filed a report with MSU (Michigan State University) police in August 2016. She filed a Title IX complaint with the university and then shared her story of sexual abuse at the hands of Larry Nasser with the Indianapolis Star.
This inexplicable independent USOC Board action, without any input from athlete and other stakeholders in the system, follows the negligent USOC Board’s hiring of junior executive Sarah Hirshland, the former employee of LA2028 Sports Agent Casey Wasserman (now the de-facto Chairman of the USOC). Unless these appointments are promptly followed by prospective executive action, we can only conclude that they are more fuel to the fire of the growing scandal of epic proportion: today’s USOC.
Olympians Rising Founder August Wolf OLY and esteemed University of Texas Sport Ethicist Professor John Hoberman penned the following opinion piece on this scandalous move. This tin-eared and audacious move is another sign and call to action for Congress to clean house at the USOC. Congress should appoint an independent panel modeled on the 2014 “Systems Response Panel” that investigated and provided a framework of reform for the US Military that became law.