USOC Chief Responds To Criticism By Athlete Group

January 9, 2019

The CEO of the United States Olympic Committee has reacted to strong criticism from athlete representatives of the 50 Olympic sports in a letter to members of the USOC’s Athlete Advisory Council (AAC).

Sarah Hirshland, who was named as the USOC’s chief exec last July, sent the letter to the 138 members of the council on Sunday.

The Southern California News Group obtained a copy and the Orange County Register’s Scott M. Reid ran excerpts in a story on the controversy swirling around the USOC in the wake of abuse scandals, with mounting pressure mounting on Congress to overhaul the organisation.

In the letter, Hirshland outlined future steps to increase athlete involvement in decision-making and the work of a reform commission led by former WNBA President Lisa Borders.

Hirshland wrote: “But the USOC needs an equal commitment from you, the elected members of the AAC. We need your engagement and involvement. We need your candor and transparent views. We need your leadership, organized and aligned behind a unified voice so that we know athletes’ input is well represented.”

“We expect you to hold us accountable. We also expect you to hold your peers accountable – accountable to telling the truth, living up to the commitments we make to one another and to regularly engaging in a respectful and open-minded way to solve concerns and discuss opportunities. Together, we all must represent the very culture we want to live every day.”

Hirshland’s letter was in response to a statement released last Friday by nearly 50 Olympians calling themselves the Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOC or Team Integrity.

They demanded mass resignation of most of the USOC’s senior administration and board of directors, in addition to urging Congress to rewrite the 1978 Amateur Sports Act and create a more athlete-centric governing body for U.S. Olympic sports.