The U.S. Olympic Committee has committed more than $10 million for a new independent agency that will investigate and resolve allegations of sexual abuse in Olympic sports.
At its board meeting Tuesday, the USOC voted to spend $5.2 million over the next five years and have the governing bodies of Olympic sports combine to match that amount to run the agency. The USOC will seek another $10 million to $15 million from outside parties.
The agency, to open in 2015, will provide education programs and oversight for Olympic sports, some of which have had difficulty policing themselves.
Earlier this week, USA Swimming chief Chuck Wielgus wrote a blog in which he apologized to dozens of victims of sexual abuse in his sport, four years after he went on TV and said he had nothing to apologize for. USA Swimming, which runs its own safe sport program, has banned 101 coaches and officials for life, most of them for sexual misconduct.
”There’s a widespread recognition over the Olympic movement that we need to shine more light on this problem,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said. ”Chuck said that in his blog and the board said that in a very important and formal way today.”
For the last few years, the USOC has been grappling with how to ensure the safety of all its athletes without putting too much oversight or financial pressure on the national governing bodies.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Olympic constituents, Blackmun said it became clear to the board ”that there is a critical need to address abuse in sports sooner rather than later, and it is with that in mind that we will press forward.”
Participation will be a condition of membership in the USOC.
Blackmun said the USOC is looking for outsiders to donate and join the effort to bankroll the new agency.
”We believe this is important for someone to step up and take a leading role,” he said. ”There was a vacuum there. We needed to fill that vacuum. But the issue is important enough that we shouldn’t be the sole funders of the initiative. We need to look for like-minded organizations.”