The Hard Truth: Lack of Jobs for Olympic Athletes A Major Problem

By Steven V. Selthoffer
Chief European Columnist for Swimming World Magazine

Bucharest, ROMANIA, October 18. IT was reported today that Romanian Olympic Committee has finally acted and signed an agreement with the human resources and job placement company Adecco Group of Romania to help Olympic athletes find jobs.

But, hold your applause…

This resulted directly in the wake of the revelation and scandal across the news media that a former Romanian Olympic gymnast and Olympic gold medallist, “who was destitute and unable to find a job for years,” was forced to turn to prostitution at a young age to survive.

A source familiar with the situation said, “She then went to Germany for prostitution also, but, was even fired from the brothel/prostitution house there….” The scandalous breaking news finally prompted the Romanian sport authorities to act to stem the outrage.

However, the problem of Olympic athletes not finding or obtaining jobs has been a major black mark on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for over a decade. The apparent Adecco solution is part of the problem.

The IOC launched the IOC Athlete Career Program with Adecco as its agency, but, according to many athletes who informed us, on the Adecco Internet site, it shows less than 8% of all Olympic athletes in the Adecco program successfully obtaining jobs in the program after years.

The Romanians strategy was “quick, hire an agency,” and just copy what others were doing in the IOC program, disregarding how successful it really is.

Mandel Develops a New Program
Pre-empting the crisis is Alon Mandel, ISR, who was a 2008 Beijing Olympic swimmer, 100 and 200 fly, and was a former stand out swimmer and graduate of the University of Michigan, completing two Masters Degrees. He also holds multiple Israeli national records.

Prior to the Romanian tragedy and others, Mandel took matters into his own hands and started working on a new framework for the IOC and the national Olympic committees to help improve the results of athletes obtaining jobs around the world and to transition more successfully into a post-sport career life.

Currently Mandel is assembling all of the new ideas and contributions from various experts and aggregating them into a new solution. He is travelling and meeting with the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, sport representatives and IOC members, listening to their concerns, soliciting their advice and support and drafting a new plan. After his meeting with the UN Ambassador in New York, Mandel said they would like to work together to hopefully share the new proposal with other UN member States.

“We have to improve the lives of these athletes. We can't ignore them once their careers are over. We have more than a moral obligation; we have a duty. I know what the athletes are going through. I was one. We have to do everything we can possible to help them and to rectify their situations,” said Mandel contemplating the task ahead.

No Jobs for Olympic Athletes
Athletes around the world have suffered for decades unable to obtain any meaningful work. Many do not have a decent higher education. At a younger age, they were spotted and developed by national sport federations, sacrificing education for Olympic glory. In many Eastern European countries after their Olympic careers are over, they are discarded. They have no jobs, no careers, no education and no income once their Olympic sport careers are over. And many Eastern European or African federation and Olympic executives hold on to their power and positions for decades, preventing athletes and others from contributing.

To compound matters, the corruption in Olympic sports in the national federations is rife with stories of young athletes having to give large portions of their state-sponsored or federation-sponsored income back to a national coach to be trained by him or her in order to be considered for the Olympic Games.

Around Eastern Europe, “If you don't pay up, and don't give the coaches what they want, you don't go to the Games and you won't even be considered for the Olympics,” stated one source close to the issue, who requested to remain anonymous.

European Olympic Committee to Meet
On the calendar, the European Olympic Committees are scheduled to hold their 41st Assembly, December 07 – 08, 2012, in Eilat, ISR.

Mr. Patrick Joseph Hickey, IRL, is President of the EOC. Mr. Alexandr Kozlovsky, RUS, is Vice President and Mr. Raffaele Pagnozzi, from Italy is Secretary General.

Hopefully, with the recent news, they will finally place athlete's welfare on the agenda and make job placement for Olympic athletes a top priority at the Assembly and conference.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops in the coming days.

For more information please go to:
Adecco IOC Athlete Career Program
Facts & Figures

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