Amidst Furor and Cancer, US Olympic Boss Is Out

Calls for Scott Blackmun's ouster had been growing louder
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 1, 2018 3:04 AM CST
Amidst Furor and Cancer, US Olympic Boss Is Out
In this Aug. 1, 2017, file photo, Scott Blackmun, CEO of the US Olympic Committee, speaks at Yongsan Garrison, a US military base in Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

Scott Blackmun resigned as CEO of the US Olympic Committee on Wednesday, stepping aside so he can tackle his worsening bout with prostate cancer and to allow the federation to move forward under new leadership to address the sex-abuse scandal that has rocked gymnastics and other sports. The 60-year-old CEO was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January and did not attend the Pyeongchang Games. Blackmun leaves as calls for his ouster were growing louder—from two US senators and, more notably, from a number of gymnasts and other athletes who said neither he nor the USOC reacted properly to cases including those involving Larry Nassar. The USOC is conducting an independent review of when Blackmun and others learned the details about abuse cases at USA Gymnastics and whether they responded appropriately.

The AP reports Blackmun started as CEO just before the 2010 Vancouver Games and patched rocky relationships with national governing bodies and with the International Olympic Committee, renegotiating an agreement over sharing revenues from TV and sponsorship deals that caused problems between the two entities for years. Two dueling takes on his exit:

  • USA Today, Christine Brennan: "It will be popular to say that Blackmun was forced out due to the burgeoning sex abuse scandals in gymnastics and swimming. But it will not be correct. ... Had Blackmun been healthy, he quite possibly could still be on the job today, leading an embattled organization through its most trying times."
  • Washington Post, Sally Jenkins: "Blackmun’s exit was the result of an athlete revolt. Last week he tried to call several gymnasts; they refused to even speak to him, or to cooperate in the flimsy so-called investigation he tried to suddenly engineer by hiring a law firm. They are still too angry—angry at the whole lousy system that paid Blackmun ... $1 million a year, while they had to endure roaches at the so-called “national training center” that was the Karolyi Ranch, where the disgusting Nassar could perpetrate his crimes in their rooms because there wasn’t even a proper medical facility."
(More US Olympic Committee stories.)

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