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A month after calling on the entire USA Gymnastics board of directors to resign and announcing an independent investigation into the systematic failure to stop former team doctor Larry Nassar’s widespread sexual abuse, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun has stepped down.
A USOC statement cited “ongoing health issues resulting from prostate cancer” as reason for Blackmun’s resignation. Board member Susanne Lyons will serve as the organization’s interim CEO.
“Given Scott’s current health situation, we have mutually agreed it is in the best interest of both Scott and the USOC that we identify new leadership so that we can immediately address the urgent initiatives ahead of us,” said USOC chairman Larry Probst. “The USOC is at a critical point in its history. The important work that Scott started needs to continue and will require especially vigorous attention in light of Larry Nassar’s decades-long abuse of athletes affiliated with USA Gymnastics. We will be working with key stakeholders to help identify a permanent successor to Scott. In the meantime, I am confident that Susanne is the right person to help us navigate this critical transition period.”
Blackmun, 60, had served as CEO since 2010, a span highlighted by the USOC securing an Olympic Games for the U.S. in 2028, but punctuated by the USA Gymnastics scandal that resulted in the equivalent of several life sentences for Nassar and the resignation of a number of Team USA officials.
The USOC had previously stood by Blackmun, even as two U.S. Senators and the Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOC, featuring a group of former Olympians, called for his resignation in the wake of the Nassar scandal. Reports indicated the USOC ignored warnings of Nassar’s abuse as early as 2015.
Blackmun did not attend the PyeongChang Olympics in South Korea due to his cancer diagnosis.
“Serving the USOC and its many stakeholders and working with our board, our professional staff and many others who support the Olympic and Paralympic movements has not only been immensely rewarding, it has been an honor and the highlight of my professional life,” he said in a statement. “I am proud of what we have achieved as a team and am confident that Susanne will help the USOC continue to embody the Olympic spirit and champion Team USA athletes during this transition.”
The announcement of Blackmun’s resignation came in coordination with the USOC revealing “significant changes to further protect athletes,” including a review of the USOC’s governance structure, support efforts for Nassar’s victims and increased funding for internal investigations.
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