Washington (AFP) – The US Olympic Committee expects to have a new chief executive within weeks and results by summer’s end from an independent investigation into its handling of a gymnastics sex abuse scandal.
USOC chairman Larry Probst and acting chief executive Susanne Lyons updated the status of the situations Friday after a USOC board of directors meeting in Washington, where another hearing before US lawmakers is expected next month in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal.
“We’re in a period of transition and evolution,” Lyons said. “We’ve had a chance to look in the mirror and see how we should interact” with athletes and national sport governing bodies.
Former USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun resigned in February after growing pressure about his handling of sexual assault allegations against former US gymnastics team doctor Nassar.
Nassar is serving what is likely a life sentence for sexual assault after more than 250 women accused him of sexual abuse perpetrated under the guise of medical treatment, many of them while they were young Olympians.
Many athletes have questioned the USOC for not doing more sooner to protect athlete safety.
Probst said in February at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics that no personnel changes would be made until a Boston law firm completes its probe into how the USOC responded to athlete allegations of wrongdoing by Nassar.
“We think they are getting closer to the end of that investigation but we don’t have a specific time frame,” Probst said. “We are thinking it will be before the end of the summer.”
The USOC has spend nearly four months searching for a new leader, seeking an inspirational leader with strong communication skills to guide the organization into the future with a new emphasis on athlete safety.
“We are making progress as we go through this process,” Probst said. “We hope to have this wrapped up in a couple of weeks, maybe less.”
USOC officials met with US Senators Richard Blumenthal, Jerry Moran and Jeanne Snaheen on their visit to the US capital, the lawmakers having conducted a hearing on the Nassar scandal last month with another expected in mid to late July.
“The tone of the meetings was forward looking and productive,” Lyons said. “They were interested in what progress we have made. The tone was more on a constructive path to let’s make athletes safer in the future.”
While USA Gymnastics has adopted or is in the process of adopting 82 percent of recommended changes from an independent panel analysis in the wake of the scandal, the need for a long-term culture change within the governing body remains vital, Lyons said.
“The culture change is probably going to be the longest and hardest,” Lyons said. “We’ve discussed with them a culture of speaking up, not a culture of retribution.”