US Olympic Committee back CEO Scott Blackmun despite calls for his resignation after Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal

Pyeongchang: US Olympic Committee officials backed embattled chief executive Scott Blackmun on Friday amid growing calls for his resignation due to inaction in the Larry Nassar gymnastics sex abuse scandal.

Hours before the start of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, USOC chairman Larry Probst said there will be no personnel changes made by the board of directors until an investigation is completed into who knew what and when.

 US Olympic Committee back CEO Scott Blackmun despite calls for his resignation after Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal

File photo of USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. Reuters

"He has served the USOC with distinction," Probst said. "We think he did what he was supposed to do and did the right thing at any time.

"The independent investigation will answer many of these questions. Whatever actions are appropriate will be taken by the board.

"We want the results of the investigation before making any decisions moving forward."

Two US Senators have called for Blackmun to resign in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report saying Blackmun was contacted by USA Gymnastics officials about Nassar in July 2015, more than a year before the abuse allegations became public.

Blackmun has the support of International Olympic Committee member Anita DeFrantz, who said of the investigation: "I'm pretty confident it will show he did a great job."

At least 265 female athletes, several of them Olympic gold medal gymnasts, claimed former US Olympic team doctor Nassar abused them over a period of two decades in the worst scandal in US Olympic history.

Nassar, 54, was last month sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for his crimes after days of haunting victim-impact testimony.

"We need to protect the athletes. We need to ensure a safe environment. It's something we're all looking at closely at discussing," said Angela Ruggiero, the IOC athletes commission chair and a former US ice hockey player.

"We want to know what happened through this investigation and move forward with better protection for athletes."

USA Gymnastics top leadership has resigned in the wake of the scandal but Probst said the USOC has been hurt even without people being forced out.

"We are far from unscathed," Probst said. "We think we did what we were supposed to do. We always could have done more.

"We can all do more. Everyone who is part of the Olympic movement needs to step up to the game."

Probst vowed the USOC will cooperate with any US lawmakers investigation or hearing into the matter.

"We could have done more," Probst said. "The Olympic system in the United States failed these athletes and we're part of the Olympic system in the United States."

Probst indicated two areas where the USOC blundered in not addressing gymnasts directly sooner.

"We took too long to reach out to gymnasts after the revelations became public. We're doing that now," he said.

The USOC also was not at Nassar hearings until the end: "That was simply a mistake. We should have been there."

USA chef de mission Alan Ashley said the entire US delegation of more than 500 people has taken safe sport training to better ensure athlete safety in South Korea.

Probst said the USOC might look to change its relationship with US national sport governing bodies, with a subcommittee expected to report in April.

"We're going to carefully examine the USOC's relationship with the NGBs. Clearly, some things have occurred that indicate we may need to have a different relationship."

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Updated Date: Feb 09, 2018 14:09:25 IST