USOC board gets look at task force recommendations for safe training environment

The U.S. Olympic Committee passed a resolution Saturday to take a leadership role in promoting safe training environments for Olympic athletes.

The board of directors approved the measure at its quarterly meeting after reviewing findings from a task force that made recommendations on how to prevent sex-abuse cases in Olympic sports.

USA Swimming, awash in allegations of sex abuse by coaches, has recently passed resolutions to expand background checks and make it mandatory for members to report any credible allegations. Earlier this year, USA Track and Field created a coaching registry that, among other things, will require coaches to undergo criminal and sex-offender background checks and to follow a code of conduct.

The USOC hopes to create a template of best practices for all its sports. Findings from the task force, led by four-time Olympic cross country skier Nina Kemppel, are expected to be made public next week. The board hopes to act on those findings in the next few months.

"There clearly need to be some USOC-provided resources," CEO Scott Blackmun said.

The board also approved key recommendations made by a task force led by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, which include adding four board members to bring the number to 15, removing term limits for the chairman and giving Blackmun a nonvoting seat on the board.

Appointing the Tagliabue commission was one of chairman Larry Probst's key initiatives in trying to restore the USOC's image after more than a year of turmoil that culminated in Chicago's first-round ouster from the bid to host the 2016 Olympics. The moves approved by the board are designed to enhance continuity and tranparency and bring more voices to the decision-making table.

"They laid out a very thoughtful roadmap," Probst said. "For all intents and purposes, most of that roadmap has been followed. There were some tweaks and adjustments along the way. It was extraordinary work. Very helpful in fine-tuning some of the governance issues that needed attention."

Blackmun again reiterated the USOC's stance on bidding for future Olympics, saying "it's highly unlikely that we would bid in 2020."

"It's highly unlikely we would bid for any games until we make some progress on revenue-sharing issues" with the International Olympic Committee, he said.

Asked if passing on 2020 might make it more likely the USOC would bid on a 2022 Winter Olympics, Blackmun reiterated: "I don't know how else to say it. It's highly unlikely we'll make a bid until we make progress on revenue sharing. If we make progress on the revenue sharing in time to make a 2022 bid, we would certainly look at that."

The IOC and USOC have reached agreement on how much America should pay into the administrative costs of staging the games. The more difficult discussion will be on how the parties share TV and marketing revenue — an issue that could take years to resolve.