A report released Tuesday by a 10-person task force does not recommend setting up a centralized database of banned coaches to keep offenders from jumping from sport to sport. Four-time Olympic cross country skier Nina Kemppel, who led the task force, said members discussed the possibility at length but decided smaller organizations don’t have sufficient resources to make such a program work.
“In the future I absolutely would hope this could become a reality,” she said on a conference call. “I think the practicality of doing this right now across all NGBs would be very difficult.”
The task force, which included a psychiatrist, lawyers and representatives from governing bodies, presented its report to the USOC board over the weekend. It recommends that the USOC develop a set of training materials and standardized procedures.
CEO Scott Blackmun said he didn’t expect resistance from the more than 30 Olympic sports, but the USOC hadn’t decided how to react if any governing bodies fail to adopt the standards.
As with the centralized database, the cost of background checks and other preventive measures is a major hurdle for smaller groups. Asked if the USOC would provide funds to governing bodies, Blackmun said the board needed time to study the budget implications of the recommendations.
Kemppel said the USOC could negotiate discounts with companies that provide background checks to drive down the cost for governing bodies. She also noted that there are other effective screening methods in addition to background checks, such as contacting past employers and references.
But those, like background checks, require resources that smaller organizations may lack.
The issue of abuse in sports has been in the spotlight in recent months with a series of allegations involving USA Swimming, although the USOC did not want its announcement of the task force in May portrayed as a direct reaction to those problems.
“The working group unanimously came to the conclusion that sexual and physical misconduct is a real issue we need to address both within our society and within sports,” Kemppel said, “and thus really recommended that the USOC take a leadership role in helping to promote the overall awareness as well as the education behind that.”