The U.S. Center for SafeSport has released an updated version of its SafeSport code, including some significant rewrites of the old Code.
We’ve dug through the former Code at length, and have clarified a number of sections with the Center, which now governs investigations and punishments of allegations of misconduct among members of all Olympic sports. Previously, much of that responsibility fell to individual National Governing Bodies (NGBs) like USA Swimming. But since the Center was established in March of 2017, it has carried exclusive authority in investigation and punishing these types of allegations.
- U.S. Center for SafeSport: Understanding the New Structure of SafeSport
- Digging in on SafeSport’s Investigative Process, Ban Terminology
The Center for SafeSport sent out a list of its revisions, and you can read the full list of revisions here. We’ll run through some of the more notable ones below. Many clarify pieces of the old Code that weren’t originally as specific, and some close specific loopholes of behavior that was clearly considered a Code violation, though it wasn’t specifically spelled out in the original Code.
Aiding & Abetting: The code now includes a provision on “aiding & abetting,” making it an official violation of SafeSport Code to “facilitate, promote, or encourage the commission of a Code violation, particularly permitting a suspended or otherwise ineligible individual to participate.”
Confidentiality: This is a very important piece of clarification, particularly for our purposes in reporting all the relevant facts about an allegation or Center decision. The new Code specifically says that any involved party can be sanctioned for “abuse of process” if they disclose official documents (like the Investigation Report), recordings transcripts or evidence about a case to anyone “outside of the proceedings.” On the other hand, the new Code does make clear that both accusers and accused can discuss the incident, their participation in the investigative process and the final decision of the investigation without punishment. The Center does reserve the right to correct the record if anyone “intentionally misrepresents the process, the underlying facts or the outcome of a matter.”
Summary of Decision: The new Code also calls for the Center to provide what is known as a “Summary of Decision” to NGBs (like USA Swimming). That document is allowable to be shared with clubs or other parties/organizations “with a need to know so the outcome can be properly effectuated and/or understood.” Ultimately, that should mean at least some level of increase in the information the public can gather about a specific ban or sanction.
Challenging temporary measures: sanctions that used to be referred to as “interim measures” are now considered “temporary measures.” They are typically handed down after a separate hearing, and can be put in place while a full investigation continues. The new code allows someone sanctioned with a temporary measure to challenge that temporary measure, but only where the temporary measure “materially affects the right to participate.” The sanctioned individual can seek arbitration to challenge the temporary measure.
Temporary measures by NGBs: The new Code makes clear that NGBs can enact their own temporary measures on a situation before the Center has taken over jurisdiction. And if the Center does exercise its jurisdiction and take over an investigation, the temporary measures handed down by the NGB will be immediately adopted as the Center’s own temporary measures, at least until the Center modifies those measures.
Other notable changes:
- The Center has provided a more full and specific list of prohibited behaviors, now listed in Section IX.
- The section on “informal resolutions” has been adjusted some. The old Code merely said the Center could come to an “informal resolution” at any time in the process, with that decision being final. The new section frames an “informal resolution” as the product of an accused person “accepting responsibility for a policy violation.” The Code makes clear that it’s not a settlement, and that the final decision will not necessarily be confidential.
- The new Code lays out more detail on participation requirements. Neither the accuser nor the accused are required to participate in the investigative process. But the final decision will only be made on the available evidence, and the Center can also choose not to continue with an investigation if there isn’t enough other evidence after someone chooses not to participate.
- The section on sanctions on page 29 has been made more specific – much of it echoes what the Center already clarified for us after our questions over the past year or so.