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GUEST COLUMN: Safe sport is a high priority for USOC

By: Scott Blackmun
March 22, 2017 Updated: March 24, 2017 at 8:23 am
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The existence of sexual abuse in sports has been the subject of a number of recent media reports and other inquiries. Sexual abuse, particularly when it involves a child, is horrific.

The United States Olympic Committee cares deeply about the welfare of young athletes who participate in Olympic and Paralympic sports. Like many others, we became more acutely aware of the potential scope and scale of the problem in 2010 when several sexual abuse cases in swimming were widely reported.

Since 2010, the USOC has been actively and transparently investing in programs to protect young athletes from abuse. In early 2010, the USOC appointed a working group to assess the problem and make recommendations regarding child protection in U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports. The Working Group for Safe Training Environments issued its report to the USOC board of directors in September 2010. We shared that report with all House and Senate committees of jurisdiction and the Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus. Safe sport has been highlighted at nearly every board meeting since.

Virtually every recommendation of the working group has been implemented. A copy of the working group's report, together with a list of the safeguards adopted by the USOC since 2010, can be found at teamusa.org/safesport. As part of our approach to transparency, the USOC posts its board meeting minutes after each meeting. For easy reference, we have provided at the above link a collection of our board of directors minutes since 2010 on the subject of safe sport.

The most recent product of our efforts came to fruition recently with the launch of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an entity with an independent board of directors that was created and funded by the USOC and its National Governing Bodies. The job of the USCSS is to (a) educate organizations, parents, athletes and others about the fact of abuse and programs that can be put in place to prevent abuse, and (b) resolve allegations of sexual misconduct within sport organizations that are subject to the USOC's jurisdiction. It is a groundbreaking approach and one that many other countries are looking at replicating.

Could we do more? Always. Should we have begun acting before 2010? I wish we had. But to suggest that the USOC is not diligently and effectively working to solve this problem is unfair to the USOC and misleading to the American public.

Safe sport is and will continue to be a priority for the Olympic Committee of the United States of America.

This matters to us. Unfortunately, it is not a project that has a beginning and an end. We're not done yet and we never will be.

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Scott Blackmun is the CEO of the United States Olympic Committee.

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