CHICAGO — The head of the U.S. Olympic Committee has serious concerns when it comes to funding an independent agency to investigate sex-abuse claims inside Olympic sports.
"I'd be lying to say I'm unequivocally confident that we can raise the $15 million we need to raise," CEO Scott Blackmun said.
In June, the USOC announced it was creating the new agency and committing $5.2 million over the first five years to fund it. The national governing bodies have committed to matching that amount, which still leaves a shortfall of about $5 million.
At the USOC Assembly last week, Blackmun said finding the last piece of the funding won't be easy.
"We're trying to raise $15 million at a time when it's not totally easy to raise money," he said. "But hopefully, the concept will resonate with enough companies and philanthropists that we can get it done."
Because of all the stories about domestic violence and child abuse in the NFL, the issue has been resonating lately, which could help the USOC's search for funding.
"Everything we've seen in recent weeks is a microcosm of what's happening in society in general," Blackmun said. "There's the issue of abuse in society in general and the issue of abuse in sports. Our issue is not just domestic violence. We look at bullying, hazing, domestic abuse, all kinds. That's what makes this initiative so important to us."
USA Swimming is among the national governing bodies that have started their own Safe Sport initiative. Three years ago, Blackmun formed a panel to look into the issue. He was hoping to find a way to ensure safety of all the Olympic athletes without putting too much financial pressure on the NGBs, many already struggling for cash.
In the end, he concluded that an independent agency, partially funded by the Olympic movement, was the best idea. The intent is for it to operate somewhat like the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which receives funding from the USOC but is not directly affiliated.
"It's important that it be an independent organization," Blackmun said. "A lot of athletes are afraid to report instances of abuse because the people they have to report to are coaches, or the people who hire or control the coaches."
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