Integrity Committee Criticizes Blackmun, Potential Successor Probst

The Committee to Restore Integrity released a response to the resignation of USOC chief Scott Blackmunsaying Blackmun “intentionally blocked athletes from getting help when they reported abuse” and criticizing USOC Chairman Larry Probst as a potential replacement.

“The money and USA’s total medal count under Scott Blackmun will be forgotten,” says Olympic swimmer and Integrity Committee member Nancy Hogshead-Makar in the press release. “Blackmun’s career will be defined by his unwillingness to protect children and athletes from sexual abuse within club and Olympic sports. Blackmun didn’t merely happen to preside during the great Larry Nassar devastation, he created the underlying conditions for Nassar’s evil to thrive. Like Blackmun’s good friend Chuck Wielgus, the 20-year leader of USA Swimming who died of cancer in 2017, Blackmun’s legacy will be that he intentionally blocked athletes from getting help when they reported abuse.”

Blackmun resigned from his post as CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) yesterday, citing health concerns, but he’s been under significant fire as sexual abuse allegations pile up within Olympic sports.

The USOC has named Susanne Lyons as acting CEO. She is a board member and served as the chair of the USOC board’s working group to address the case of Nassar, the former sports doctor convicted of sexually assaulting minors he worked with as an athletic doctor. More than 160 women testified in court that Nassar had sexually abused them over decades.

The USOC release announcing Blackmun’s resignation also quoted Probst, the Board chair and former CEO of video game company EA. The integrity committee criticized Probst by name, saying that appointing him or another “insider” as Blackmun’s successor would make athletes no safer.

“If another insider replaces Blackmun with the same mindset that athletes are insignificant, or that NGBs are permitted to treat athletes however they wish, someone like Larry Probst, athletes are no safer,” the Integrity Committee’s press release says.

The release is signed by more than 90 people with at least 50 Olympians among them. Notable swimmers on the list include Hogshead-Makar, Lenny Krayzelburg, Ariana Kukors and Gary Hall, Jr.

The committee calls on Congress to make structural changes, starting with amendments to the Sports Act, expressing doubt that the USOC can or will make all the changes necessary to protect athletes.

You can read the full press release below. The committee also sent a letter to Congress earlier this month detailing a timeline of Blackmun’s role in the growing sexual abuse controversy. You can read that letter here.

Reaction to the Resignation of USOC CEO Scott Blackmun from The Committee to Restore Integrity

Former Olympians and advocates join together to force the resignation of Blackmun for failing to ensure that National Governing Bodies (NGBs) protect athletes from sexual abuse.

New York, NY – February 28, 2018 – The Committee to Restore Integrity (“Integrity Committee”) (see below) has the following comment in response to USOC CEO Scott Blackmun resigning today. The Integrity Committee has provided the House Committee on Energy and Commerce documentation which outlines the numerous opportunities the USOC had to prevent athletes from being sexually abused.

The Integrity Committee believes Blackmun and the USOC created the underlying conditions for sexual abuse to thrive among this country’s Olympic National Governing Bodies. The group also charges Blackmun and the USOC knew going back nearly three decades that athlete sexual abuse was a frequent and reoccurring problem within the Olympic movement.

The Integrity Committee’s Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D. stated: “Let the Olympic movement take note: The money and USA’s total medal count under Scott Blackmun will be forgotten. Blackmun’s career will be defined by his unwillingness to protect children and athletes from sexual abuse within club and Olympic sports. Blackmun didn’t merely happen to preside during the great Larry Nassar devastation, he created the underlying conditions for Nassar’s evil to thrive. Like Blackmun’s good friend Chuck Wielgus, the 20-year leader of USA Swimming who died of cancer in 2017, Blackmun’s legacy will be that he intentionally blocked athletes from getting help when they reported abuse.

Removing Scott Blackmun from the USOC is the beginning of our efforts. We call on Congress to amend the Sports Act; structural changes are imperative. If another insider replaces Blackmun with the same mindset that athletes are insignificant, or that NGBs are permitted to treat athletes however they wish, someone like Larry Probst, athletes are no safer. Only Congress can provide athletes with the structural changes they need to solve basic and inevitable conflicts with their governing bodies, greater protections from abuse, and a greater share in the largess that their hard work and heroic performances create.

During Blackmun’s association with the USOC, the committee claims:

1)       The USOC gave NGBs the funds to fend off athletes’ demands for protection from abusive coaches in AAA arbitrations, as mandated by the Sports Act. Meanwhile, athletes are forced to pay for and find outside private counsel. Unlike other civil rights laws, athletes seeking to get their NGBs to comply with the Sports Act have no attorney’s fee provision, even when they ultimately prevail.

2)       The USOC remained silent when it was revealed that at least 36 coaches had been permanently banned from USA Swimming for sexually abusing athletes. The number has now grown to more than 100 coaches.

3)       The USOC ignored three Taekwondo athletes who reported to then-head of the USOC’s SafeSport, Malia Arrington, that they were sexually violated by their coach. The coach was convicted and is now serving prison time.

4)       Until very recently, Blackmun defended USA Gymnastics, rather than the sexually abused athletes who came forward.

5)       Blackmun reportedly supported the candidacy of a convicted rapist who had served prison time, an Olympic athlete from the sport of wrestling, for the position of Chair of the USOC Athletes’ Advisory Council. This was at a crucial time when the USOC was opening the U.S. Center for SafeSport; an independent entity that is to investigate reports of misconduct, hold hearings, and remove sexual abusers from sport.

The Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOC is comprised of Olympic athletes and coaches, direct and indirect victims of sexual abuse, child advocacy experts, and attorneys who have represented athletes who have been the victims of sexual and other abuse along with NGB non-compliance.

Committee Members (Oly denotes Olympian):

  • Robert Allard, Esq.
  • Lisa Anderson
  • Betsy Andreu
  • Jessica Armstrong, Esq.
  • Don Barcome, Oly
  • Sarah Powers Barnhard
  • Brenda Bourg Bartlett, Oly
  • Cherie Benjoseph
  • Dennis Belli, Esq.
  • Judy Blumberg
  • Pam Boteler
  • Keith Brantly, Oly
  • Eli Bremer, Oly
  • Anthony “Tonie” Campbell, Oly
  • Kelsey Campbell, Oly
  • Rebecca Carlson
  • Becky Clark, PhD, CMPC, LCSW-R
  • Kathy Johnson Clarke, Oly
  • Corey Cogdell, Oly
  • Sebastian DeFrancesco, Oly
  • Robert Denithorne
  • Christopher DeSantis, MAPP,s Oly
  • Shaun Doughtery
  • Justin Dumais, Oly
  • Sheilla Dingus
  • Sue Enquist
  • Lindsay Garrett
  • Frank Gorman, Oly
  • Michele Kurtzman Greenfield, Oly
  • Nancy Gruver
  • Gary Hall, Jr., Oly
  • Jimbo Haley, Oly
  • Marci Hamilton, Esq.
  • Vincent Hancock, Oly
  • Joan Hansen, Oly
  • Rene Henry
  • Leslie Heywood, Ph.D.
  • Katie Hnida
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Esq., Oly
  • Karen Moe Humphreys, Oly
  • Isabella Isaksen, Oly
  • Allen James, Oly
  • Weston Seth Kelsey, Oly
  • Caleb King
  • Micki King, Oly
  • Mitzi Kramer Tighe, Oly
  • Lenny Krayzelburg, Oly
  • Ariana Kukors, Oly
  • David Larson, Oly
  • Caroline Lind, Oly
  • Jonathon Little, Esq.
  • Esther Lofgren, Oly
  • Donna Lopiano, Ph.D.
  • Nancy Lough, Ph.D.
  • Chaunte Lowe, Oly
  • Emil Milev, Oly
  • Randi Miller, Oly
  • Betsy Mitchell, Oly
  • Michele Mitchell, Ph.D., Oly
  • John Moffett, Oly
  • Meghan Musnicki, Oly
  • Martina Navratilova, Oly
  • Greta Neimanas, Oly
  • Megan Neyer, Ph.D., Oly
  • Diana Nyad
  • Jessice O’Beirne
  • Sean O’Neil, Oly
  • Kim Pawelek
  • Dawn Riley
  • Laura Robinson
  • Eva Rodansky
  • Patricia A. Rodowsky
  • Diane Rosenfeld
  • Monica Fling Rowland
  • Vanja Rogulj, Oly
  • Bill Roy, Oly
  • Keith Sanderson, Oly
  • Ed Semansky, Esq.
  • Jennifer Sey
  • Rita Smith
  • Jennifer Spiegel, Esq.
  • Lyn St. James
  • Carrie Steinseifer Bates, Oly
  • Jancy Thompson
  • Steven Ungeleider, M.D.
  • Allison Wagner, Oly
  • Mary Whipple, Oly
  • Edward G. Williams, Esq., Oly
  • Taraje Williams-Murray, Oly
  • Martin Zubero, Oly

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cbswims

Does this ‘committee’ (more like a consortium of concerned people) have any actual say?

Snarky

Bob Allard? John Little? Kind of hurts this committee’s credibility. Did Little disclose that he dated a friend of Susan Woessner?

currentcollegeswimmer

Potential Successor Jeff Probst?

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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