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Committee to Restore Integrity to USOC Submits 12 Recommendations

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Photo: The Gazette in Colorado Springs

By Daniel Etchells |

The Committee to Restore Integrity to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has submitted 12 recommendations designed to “better protect more than eight million young athletes from sexual, physical and emotional abuse” by altering the power-structure of the national governing body.

The proposed solutions seek to abolish the “money and medals” and “anti-athlete” culture, by replacing it with an “athletes first” mission.

The recommendations, which can be viewed in full here, are a follow-up to a meeting with chief executive Sarah Hirshland at the USOC’s offices in New York City on January 16, when each recommendation was discussed.

A recent Ropes & Gray investigation and a Congressional House subcommittee report called for profound cultural changes to the USOC to address athlete-abuse and a re-organization that puts athletes’ interests and their well-being first.

The Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOC, which refers to itself by the shortened name of Team Integrity, says it has stepped in to offer solutions after “the current USOC Board members did not move to re-consider USOC policies that the reports highlighted”.

Its solutions include re-organising the USOC, corporate enforcement of federal law and establishing whistleblower protection as a result of “continued retaliation” against those who come forward against the USOC.

Additionally, Team Integrity has called for the creation of an independent Office of Inspector General and an athlete advocate office, as well as the USOC severing ties with all law firms and lawyers that have engaged in anti-athlete litigation.

insidethegames has contacted USOC for comment.

“Team Integrity submits its recommendations in a good faith effort to have the USOC immediately fix its broken culture and promptly and decisively move forward in an athlete-centered direction in which we believe will result in reducing the abuse and exploitation of all athletes,” Olympian Ed Williams, one of the architects of the Sports Act in 1978 and a lawyer frequently representing athletes, said.

“We have asked for and look forward to receiving a positive response from the chief executive and the Board with respect to each of our recommendations.”

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympian and chief executive of Champion Women, added: “Team Integrity is interested in far more than putting exclamation points on the USOC’s upside-down priorities described in the Ropes & Gray report.

“Instead, our recommendations would change the structure and governance of the USOC.

“These recommendations are designed to re-orient the USOC down a new path, to protect athletes from all forms of exploitation and abuse, and to truly make the USOC an ‘athletes first’ organisation.”

Earlier this month, Team Integrity called for the “near complete” resignation of the USOC Board and senior leadership.

It followed the Ropes & Gray report declaring that USOC and USA Gymnastics had facilitated former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse of hundreds of athletes and had failed to act when the allegations against him emerged.

Team Integrity claims this call to remove most of the USOC Board and its senior leadership still stands.

“The USOC continues to demonstrate that it cannot reform itself,” the group said in a statement.

Last week, Hirshland claimed empowering athletes and creating an environment free of abuse are two of her central aims in the role.

She made the declaration in a question and answer session with the New York Times, which marked the sixth-month mark since she assumed the position.

Hirshland, formerly the chief commercial officer for the United States Golf Association, took up the post last July.

Her opening months have been challenging, with the USOC still dealing with the fall-out from the Nassar scandal.

Among her biggest decisions to date was the commencement of steps to revoke the scandal-hit USA Gymnastics’ recognition as the national governing body for the sport over its response to the crisis.

Cory Gardner, a US Senator for Colorado, has also called for changes to the USOC. 

The politician has introduced legislation which, if adopted, would establish a 16-member commission to study the structure of the organization.

The Commission would be required to have experience in athletics, advocacy or coaching, and half of which would be comprised of Olympians or Paralympians.

They would reportedly determine whether the USOC’s Board includes diverse membership, review existing licensing and funding arrangements, oversee sports’ national governing bodies, and make efforts to take the Olympic and Paralympic Games to the US.

The Commission would then submit a final report to Congress with their findings, conclusions and recommendations.

“Team Integrity also supports the bill Senator Cory Gardner proposed, that would establish a blue-ribbon committee to re-write the Sports Act,” Team Integrity’s statement adds.

“We are hoping that it can be accomplished much faster than the 16 months proposed.

“The number of Team Integrity members, including Olympians, Paralympians and their coaches, elite athletes, sport leaders, sexual abuse organizations, the Army of Survivors and other victims of sexual abuse in sport, continues to grow.”

The USOC has not yet replied to insidethegames‘ request for comment.

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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