Published: Fri, March 02, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Blackmun to leave USOC

Blackmun to leave USOC

When it announced Wednesday that CEO Scott Blackmun will resign, the United State Olympic Committee also declared that it will launch new initiatives to better protect athletes from abuse and respond more quickly and effectively when allegations surface.

The 60-year-old CEO was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this winter and did not attend the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Blackmun leaves as calls for his ouster were growing louder - from two U.S. senators and, more notably, from a number of gymnasts and other athletes who said neither he nor the USOC at large reacted properly to cases including those involving Larry Nassar, the doctor who sexually abused members of the United States gymnastics team.

Usoc board member Susanne Lyons will serve as the acting CEO while the organisation searches for a permanent replacement.

Wednesday's decision by the International Olympic Committee appears to be an attempt to draw a line under the state-concocted doping scandal that tarnished the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

At a news conference to kick off the Olympics, USOC chairman Larry Probst said Blackmun had served the USOC with distinction and the board found no reason to relieve him.

"I am proud of what we have achieved as a team", he said.

In January, Raisman called for an independent investigation into both the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics.

Some had called for similar actions to be taken against Blackmun and members of the USOC board.

Scott Blackmun took over as the USOC's chief executive in 2010, and has been widely praised for bringing stability to the organization, as well as for his successful efforts to land another Summer Olympics for the US. "The important work that Scott started needs to continue and will require especially vigorous attention in light of Larry Nassar's decades-long abuse of athletes affiliated with USA Gymnastics", Probst said in the statement.

The statement did not address questions of whether the sexual abuse scandal played any role in Blackmun's departure.

The USOC said it was starting several initiatives, including providing new funding and resources for Nassar victims and others in Olympic sports who have been subject to abuse.

After he pled guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison in January, the whole USA Gymnastics Board of Directors resigned at Blackmun's prompting.

Launching a review of the USOC and NGB governancestructure as defined by the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, including seeking input from safe sport advocacy groups, the NGB Council, the Athletes' Advisory Council, current athletes and policymakers to consider clarifications and changes to this structure. The committee will also double the funding for the Center for SafeSport so that more investigators can be hired, and they plan to begin a review of SafeSport procedures to ensure that allegations of abuse are reported. This also would enable NGBs and the USOC to be more aware of problems as they arise, spot trends, and know where more oversight and engagement are necessary. In addition to the AAC already in place, the USOC will seek input on its decision making from now competing athletes and athletes who have competed in the past. Joni Ernst, had called for Blackmun's resignation, said Wednesday's announcement was "long overdue".

John Manly, who is the attorney for many survivors of abuse at the hands of Dr. Nassar, says, "Under his leadership, USOC has focused almost all its efforts on money and medals while the safety of our athletes has taken a back seat".

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