U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Sued For Fraud In Lawsuit That Says SafeSport ‘PR’

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Foundation for Global Sport Development’s lawsuit describes U.S. Center for SafeSport as a ‘public relations move’

A financial benefactor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, led by a former member of Los Angeles’ bid committee to host the Olympic Games, is suing the top American Olympic authority for fraud, breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, according to the Southern California News Group.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the Foundation for Global Sport Development also alleges that the USOPC, formerly known as the USOC, engaged in inappropriate use of funds and self dealing, and concealed “systematic failures and impropriety in its operations”, Scott M. Reid of the The Orange County Register reports.

Global Sports Development (GSD) is  nonprofit organization led by David Ulich, a Los Angeles attorney who was a member of the LA 2024 bid committee. In a two-candidate deal with the International Olympic Committee, it was agreed that Paris would host 1924, 100 years after the French capital last noted the Olympics, and Los Angeles would host the 2028 Games, 44 years after the city last staged the big event.

The new lawsuit alleges that at the time Scott Blackmun was CEO of USOC he misled GSD officials about plans for the U.S. Center for SafeSport while soliciting contributions from GSD for the center. Reid reports:

“Blackmun approached GSD officials in late 2015 or early 2016 about contributing to what became the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The center, created and funded by the USOPC, is recognized by Congress as the official safe sport organization for all Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Para Pan American sports in the U.S. The center has jurisdiction over the investigation and resolution of sexual, physical and emotional abuse cases in U.S. Olympic sports. It also oversees training, education and policies and procedures designed to prevent abuse. The center opened in March 2017.

“GSD has contributed $284,000 to the center to date, according to the suit. Blackmun, also a former LA 2024 bid committee member, was forced out at the USOPC in February 2018 amid criticism for his role in handling the sexual abuse scandal involving former U.S. Olympic and national team physician Larry Nassar. Two U.S. senators alleged in December 2018 that Blackmun made false statements and misled Congress and referred the case to the Justice Department and FBI for criminal investigation.”

From 2016 through 2018, the suit alleges:

“Mr. Blackmun and the USOC continually provided GSD with assurances that, with GSD’s financial support, the USOC would effectively remedy the issues of athlete abuse. GSD is informed and believes and thus alleges that Mr. Blackmun and the USOC knew and intended that SafeSport was merely and in actuality a public relations move to deflect criticism of the USOC for its failure to effectively handle the abuse problem and that SafeSport was never intended to actually address and/or remedy the abuse  problem.

“Mr. Blackmun and the USOC knew they were false statements, had no intent to do what they represented they would do, and were concealing the whole truth about the extent of the USOC’s knowledge of their systematic failure to protect athletes from pervasive abuse and sexual harassment.”

The USOPC an UIlich declined comment when asked to do so by the OCR. The Southern California News Group notes that documents it obtained detail how discussions to expand GSD’s support of the USOPC began in 2013. Read the report in full.

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