USOPC Progress Charted by Borders Commission

(ATR) No red flags in the one-year follow-up to a sweeping call for change at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

(ATR) One year after an independent commission report called for substantial changes throughout the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, a follow-up gives good marks.

The Borders Commission, named after chair Lisa Borders, was created in 2018 in the aftermath of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal. Borders, former CEO of the WNBA, worked with a panel of athletes and sport experts to draft a report that would guide changes to the USOPC.

The report named five "top line" recommendations covering governance, athlete safety and welfare, supervising national governing bodies and oversight by the U.S. Congress.

In the year since the Borders Report was published, the USOPC seems to be on track addressing the solutions the report offered, according to the follow-up released August 18.

Out of 30 recommendations in the Borders Report, 24 are noted with a green symbol for progress and implementation. Just six carry a yellow mark to indicate where more work is needed.

None carry a red symbol, which the follow-up report says would indicate the "USOPC has rejected or ignored the recommended Implementation Step".

Of the recommendations still needing attention, the follow-up report mentions diversity for staff, mental health services for athletes and implementing the new office of compliance and ethics.

"I am heartened by the response of the USOPC after a crisis, requesting outside review of its operating model and embracing the candid advice given after the review was done. It is noteworthy that all the top-line recommendations were accepted and that the initial efforts to deliver the implementation steps have been made," says Borders in her follow-up report.

"The 2019 report recommended an organizational mind shift from ‘money for medals’ to ‘people and performance.’ The overarching theme was placing the athletes at the center of every decision, making its mission athlete-centric," says Borders.

USOPC Chair Susanne Lyons acknowledges that more time will be needed to bring about culture change.

"Over the past year, the USOPC embraced the mandate for change and, to the best of our abilities in difficult times, began to take substantive actions to better support and engage with athletes, while improving the effectiveness of the organizations that also serve them. We know there is more work to do, and we know that culture is not changed in a few short months. Our objective is to create a culture where athletes can train and compete in a safe environment that supports health and well-being in addition to athletic performance," Lyons says in a statement.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation that addresses issues raised by the Borders Report. The legislation would reconstitute the USOPC Board Of Directors and instill the USOPC with more accountability for the welfare of athletes by the various NGBs. The bill has been passed by the U.S. Senate and is expected to win approval in the House before the end of the year.

Reported by Ed Hula.