June 12, 2014
USOC pledge more than $10 million towards new agency to tackle sex abuse allegations in US sport
By Nick Butler
More than $10 million (£6 million/€7.4 million) has been pledged by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to investigate and resolve allegations of sexual abuse in the country, following a series of recent scandals.
The USOC Board have voted unanimously to spend $5.2 million (£3.1 million/€3.8 million) over the next five years, while they are ordering governing bodies of other Olympic sports to combine to collectively raise a similar total.
It is hoped another $10-$15 million (£6-£9 million/€7.4-€11.2 million) will be raised by external sponsors.
This will all go towards an independent agency, due to open next year, which will provide educational programmes and oversight measures for Olympic sports, particularly for those that have struggled to police themselves.
The sport of swimming has been especially affected, with a total of 101 coaches and officials having been banned for life, most of them for sexual misconduct, with one coach, Andy King, currently serving a 40-year prison sentence in California after being convicted of abusing more than a dozen girls over a period of more than 30 years.
An online petition has been set up to bring about the removal of Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming since 1997, following allegations he turned a blind eye to abuse going on under his watch.
Confirmation that this funding would be pledged towards the new agency represents a major breakthrough for the USOC, following a lengthy period during which the organisation has been working out how to ensure the safety of all its athletes without putting too much oversight or financial pressure on the national governing bodies.
"There's a widespread recognition over the Olympic movement that we need to shine more light on this problem," chief executive Scott Blackmun said, following a USOC quarterly Board meeting held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston yesterday.
"Chuck [Wielgus] said that in his blog and the Board said that in a very important and formal way today."
Participation will be a condition of membership in the USOC, while Blackmun also emphasised the importance of external backers to support the programme.
"We believe this is important for someone to step up and take a leading role," he said.
"There was a vacuum there and we needed to fill that vacuum.
"But the issue is important enough that we shouldn't be the sole funders of the initiative, so we need to look for like-minded organisations."
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