by Irvin Muchnick
In the first admission that its vaguely defined sex police, the “National Center for Safe Sport,” is running behind schedule, a U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman yesterday told Concussion Inc.:
“We understand and share your frustration about the pace of progress, and are working diligently to raise the funds and make the insurance arrangements necessary to launch the pilot.”
The statement, in an email from Mark Jones, USOC’s senior director of communications, was in response to our July 13 article, “Missing and Exploited Children Experts: The Silent Start-Up of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s ‘National Center for Safe Sport’,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=10179. The article pointed out that a February announcement said USOC’s $5.2 million in funding for the agency would cover the start-up phase “through June.”
I also noted that the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t agency’s seven-person “advisory council” was missing in action — failing to respond to the most basic media inquiries.
I took these concerns to everyone I could think of, including USOC communications director Patrick Sandusky. I also tried Malia Arrington, “director of ethics and safe sport.”
The most convoluted and disturbing response — a kind of no-comment without portfolio — came from Kacie Wallace, USOC’s new athlete ombudswoman. (Previously, we have covered the transition from former ombudsman John Ruger — who reportedly got pushed out, with a sweet retirement package, just as he was about to sing to federal investigators about USOC’s slow and corrupt handling of sexual abuse complaints. See https://concussioninc.net/?p=9745.)
Wallace referred me to the USOC communications office. It is an understatement to observe that this reinforces doubts about the genuine independence of the athletes’ advocacy office.
In other clown developments, a member of the seven-person “advisory council” for the “National Center for Safe Sport,” Katherine Starr, has rejiggered the website of her ghost organization, Safe4Athletes, to place a year-old survey of athletes (which garnered all of 155 respondents) at the top of its blog listings. This serves to position the December 2, 2014, item “Founder Katherine Starr Joins the USOC Safe Sport Advisory Council,” “Written by Katherine Starr,” back to the second-oldest news on the blog.
With no thanks to America’s major media outlets, the Government Accountability Office, or putative watchdogs such as Congresswoman Jackie Speier, the abuse scandals at USA Swimming and other USOC national sport governing bodies are gaining international attention — most notably through the renewed inquiries into the American machinations behind the 20-year residency here of former rapist Irish national swim team coach George Gibney.
The purpose of the “National Center for Safe Sport” is to mollify the few who are paying attention. Today even the USOC is acknowledging that the center is an empty vessel. The longer it takes to make the agency real and operational, the even less will the public notice.