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Amateur Athlete Safety: Certification Related to the Independence of the U.S. Center for SafeSport for Fiscal Year 2021

GAO-22-105572 Published: Jun 29, 2022. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 2022.
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Fast Facts

The U.S. Center for SafeSport is responsible for protecting amateur athletes from emotional, physical, and sexual misconduct and abuse in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic communities.

Congress requires that the Center be independent from the U.S. Olympic Committee in a number of ways. For example, former employees of the U.S. Olympic Committee must observe a 2-year "cooling off period" before working or volunteering at the Center. The Olympic Committee also can't interfere with or influence the Center's investigations.

For FY 2021, we did not find any violations of these requirements.

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Highlights

What GAO Found

The U.S. Center for SafeSport (the Center) is a nonprofit organization that plays a key role in ensuring the safety of amateur athletes. The Center has jurisdiction over the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (the Corporation) and its affiliated organizations (known as national governing bodies) with regard to safeguarding amateur athletes against abuse in sports.

GAO found no evidence that a former employee or board member of the Corporation worked for or volunteered with the Center during fiscal year 2021 in violation of the 2-year cooling off period set forth in the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020 (EOPAAA). Further, for fiscal year 2021, GAO found no evidence of a conflict of interest, as defined by the EOPAAA, between the Center's executives or attorneys and the Corporation. According to the EOPAAA, an executive or attorney for the Center shall be considered to have an inappropriate conflict of interest if the executive or attorney also represents the Corporation. In addition, GAO's review of the Center's investigative process found no evidence of interference or influence by the Corporation. Based on the certification provisions of the EOPAAA and GAO's methodology, GAO certifies that the Center was independent from the Corporation during fiscal year 2021.

Why GAO Did This Study

The EOPAAA included a provision for GAO to annually "make available to the public a certification relating to the Center's independence from the Corporation," including:

  • a finding of whether a violation of the prohibition on employment of former employees or board members of the Corporation has occurred during the year preceding the certification (2-year cooling off period);
  • a finding of whether an executive or attorney for the Center has had an inappropriate conflict of interest during that year; and
  • a finding of whether the Corporation has interfered in, or attempted to influence the outcome of, an investigation by the Center.

GAO reviewed information provided by the Center about its employees and individuals who worked or volunteered for the Center at any point during fiscal year 2021 (January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021), including conflict of interest verification forms that the Center requires of all such individuals. GAO cross-checked the information provided by the Center to information received from the Corporation about its employees, such as information about attorneys employed, hired, or retained and a brief description of the type of matter each attorney engaged in on behalf of the Corporation. Also, GAO reviewed the Center's written responses to questions and various documents, such as the Center's employee handbook, board bylaws, confidentiality policy, standard operating procedures, and the SafeSport Code, which establishes acceptable standards of conduct for all individuals who participate in U.S. Olympic and Paralympic events and training.

For more information, contact Kathryn A. Larin at (202) 512-7215 or larink@gao.gov.

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