50 Olympians Call for USOC Resignations After Board Appointments

The Committee to Restore Integrity, made up of a number of Olympians and other stakeholders, is calling for a “near-complete resignation of the U.S. Olympic Committee board and senior leadership,” per a press release published today.

The release references the appointments of Rich Bender and Steve Mesler to the USOC board as the catalyst for the group’s call for mass resignations. The two were appointed to four-year terms on the board.

Bender, the executive director of USA Wrestling, was newly appointed to the USOC board this year. He’s been the head of USA Wrestling since 2001. The Committee to Restore Integrity in its press release said Bender “intimidated and insulted athlete-leaders that spoke out against the USOC’s current culture,” noting that the recent Ropes & Gray report had specifically highlighted that behavior as dangerous and problematic for the USOC.

Mesler, a three-time Olympian in the bobsled, was appointed to the USOC board in March of 2015. The Committee’s release says Mesler “frequently defends the USOC’s cultural status quo.” The release also criticizes the USOC for appointing Mesler as athlete representative without asking the Athletes’ Advisory Council for feedback.

The USOC has already seen the resignation of CEO Scott Blackmun, who resigned last February, citing health concerns but also amidst a wave of criticism surrounding the Larry Nassar trial.

You can read the full Committee to Restore Integrity press release here.

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MIKE IN DALLAS

Bravi to all the athlete-signatories!
USOC is yet one more organization like FINA that needs a total overall, beginning with MASS resignations.

Mindful

Unfortunately, this type of activity loses a lot of credibility when the first signature on the committee list on the attached issued document is that of a plaintiffs’ attorney (Robert Allard) and the press release is issued by his public relations colleague Ed Vasquez.

Coachdia

A comment like this by a code name is disingenuous at best. An insult to the victims of human exploitation, whistleblowers and sex abuse. Who number in the 1000s and some of whom were represented by Bob Allard, many of which received pro bono service. Obviously you are of the ilk that created this situation in the first place and are engaging in the silencing tactics of shaming. Do you know Bob Allard and his motivation for representing victims. If you did you would not be questioning his Integrity.

Coachdia

Furthermore, If it were not for attorneys with moral Integrity like Nancy Hogshead-Makar, John Little And Robert Allard it would still be seen as an acceptable policy by the USOC and NGBs like USA Swimming to silence child victims of rape, trafficking, molestation, financial exploitation. ( with that being said you should know that right this minute the NGBs and USOC are scorched earth litigating to line their pockets and silence victims).Enough is enough! It is time for athletes and all those who love sport to stand up and speak loudly about how human exploitation to line the pockets of a few will no longer be tolerated. Crimes against those who train in sport to represent their communities and country… Read more »

Viva

I actually think the comments on Allard are spot on, obviously touching a nerve. Having observed Allard’s tactics, I would say that publicity, client development, and obvious personal animus are his motivations, and I have seen Ed Vasquez on television news in my community blatantly seeking clients on Allard’s behalf following the resolution of another matter. IMHO, Allard and Hogshead-Makar seem to feel they are the self-appointed Attorneys-General of Olympic sports indiscriminately serving clients–some of whom may deserve (better) representation and some who do not. Shame on you for using this website as another p.r. outlet.

DanReb

The USOC has been a terrible steward of its monopoly over the Olympic movement– that really isn’t up for much debate, especially after the Ropes & Gray report and House Energy and Commerce Committee both found that the USOC failed to protect athletes from abuse.

A reason abuse has continued to this point is that too many people within the Olympic movement have been satisfied with the status quo and are more outraged about survivors threatening the brand than they are protecting athletes and ensuring there are not future generations of survivors whose abuse could have been prevented.

Coachdia

No one is advertising here! Your spin is just that! Obviously, the defending of this model and leadership is just that. What reasonable human being thinks it is ok to cover up and silence victims and whistleblowers of child rape and molestation? Why are our athletes basic human and civil rights disregarded?

BTW is was clear that the person was either a defendant or hostile deposed (enabler).

Still you don’t know them or their motivation. You just don’t!

DanReb

Ropes & Gray and House Energy and Commerce Committee’s both found that the USOC failed to protect athletes. It is counterproductive and unfair to ascribe nefarious motives to people who are fighting for reform in an organization that has failed so many athletes (not just according to the athletes, but two separate, recent investigations).

Buffalo

Congress has no credibility in this matter, even less than Allard, and it provides no monetary or other meaningful support to the Olympic movement. With no funding support, they have imposed abuse monitoring and reporting requirements on sports organizations, but when the sports organizations report abuse claims to local authorities and the FBI, no action is taken.The Ropes & Gray report you cite noted that the FBI bounced the Nassar matter to three different field offices, with no results or action taken. The FBI is supposedly conducting its own internal investigation of its inaction on the case, but when that report will issue is anyone’s guess. BTW, this happened on Comey’s watch, which no one seems to take note of.… Read more »

Merrie Lee Irwin

Human greed and exploitation of athletes in any form should never be allowed in any sport!

DanReb

If you want to talk about credibility, take a hard look at the NGBs and the USOC. The USOC loses credibility when they enable sexual abuse and fail to make the reforms necessary to protect athletes. If more people focused on the real problems and demanded change, there would be no need for lawyers / advocates and survivors of abuse in sports would not have to bear the burden of advocacy and reform while they cope with the aftermath of abuse.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar

Focus on the USOC board’s actions, as detailed quite well by the Ropes & Gray Report. They KNEW abuse was an issue, they knew athletes were bound to have conflicts with their NGBs, they knew many NGBs were woefully out fo compliance with the sports act, and their official board position was, “not my problem.” We have emails where Scott Blackmun literally said… “I will not get between a national governing body and an athlete.“ after the ropes and gray report came out, you would think that the board would start doing things differently. That they would issue a Mea culpa. We gave them plenty of rope… We had numerous conversations… I wrote several articles in major media about what… Read more »

Citizen

Here’s the reality, Ms. Hogshead-Makar–you and Mr. Allard are angry lawyers but you are not sheriffs or legislators though you may fancy yourself as both.You don’t write the laws, and you are not judge and jury and should not be arguing your cases or presenting evidence or demanding apologies from sports officials on Swimswam or via the media. And since the USOC is currently privately funded, your actions also can adversely affect already under-funded athletes who have not been abused, and other innocent hard-working sports officials, coaches, and volunteers.The U.S. is not a nanny state, as attractive as that concept may be to you. Perhaps your resources might be better directed at parents, athletes and volunteers at the grassroots level… Read more »

Nancy Hogshead-Makar

We protect children — and adults! — from sexual abuse. Would you say that to Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church? Or any other youth-serving organization? Swimming is 93% children – as are many NGBs, and the USOC never protected these children.
Would you say that to employees, students, clients of lawyers, doctors’ or a therapists’ patients? No, we don’t say “it’s the parent’s job” when children are molested by other professions besides coaching – doctors, lawyers, therapists, counselors and teachers all lose their licenses to practice. So should coaches. Get them out.
Employers and schools are responsible for protecting their employees and students. Being an athlete shouldn’t be the only unprotected group.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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