PRINT: USOPC Athlete Reps Olympics

The Associated Press file The new law mandates that the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee report abuse against a minor athlete to police and forbids employees from aiding others who commit sexual misconduct to obtain new jobs.

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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