Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So who replaces Steve Roush on the USATF High Performance Audit Panel?

In Tuesday's USA Today and several other national publications, the US Olympic Committee announced that its chief of sport performance, Steve Roush, resigned from his position.

Roush, 50, has held the position since March 2003 - first on an interim basis and then full time beginning in May 2004. He joined the USOC in July 2000 as a Sport Partnership Director after serving as Assistant Executive Director of USA Swimming from 1994-2000.

As Chief of Sport Performance, Roush oversaw the various USOC divisions responsible for providing benefits and services to America's athletes and National Governing Bodies. During his tenure, United States Teams achieved unprecedented success in the Olympic Games, including record-setting performances at the 2008 Beijing Games (110 medals, the most ever for a U.S. Team in a full-participation Games) and the 2006 Torino Winter Games (25, the most ever for a U.S. Winter Team competing outside the United States).

Roush made headlines last summer in Beijing for all the wrong reasons--he was the USOC administrator who publicly reprimanded and demanded apologies from four US cyclists for wearing USOC issued air-filtering masks in the Beijing airport upon their arrival from the USA.

"He put a very big negative mark on my Olympics," Bobby Lea--one of the four cyclists, said of Roush, "and you don't want to ever wish hardship on someone — especially in these kind of economic times — but it seems that for every action there is a reaction. Maybe this was a little karma coming back around."

After the Olympics, Lea, Mike Friedman, Sarah Hammer, and Jennie Reed, hired an attorney to force the USOC to apologize to them for Roush's actions. When the four met with Roush in Beijing after the incident, an athlete ombudsman was not present in the room, which is generally standard procedure.

The USOC also instituted changes last fall that would allow its athlete ombudsman to more directly and independently advocate for athletes at future Olympic Games. Lea called those changes "the bigger step in the right direction."

"It feels like we were positively reinforced for standing up for our rights," Lea said. "Hopefully other athletes presented with similar situations will take something away from our experience and not let themselves be trampled by people who are basically playground bullies."

To read the full article from USA Today, please click here...

In USATF CEO Doug Logan's blog on October 13th, Logan named Roush and two other USOC executives to the select panel analyzing Team USA's performance in Beijing.

The bigger question from a track & field perspective is who replaces Roush on USA Track & Field's select High Performance Audit panel? Or does the panel go on without Roush?

Either way, it's my feeling that USA Track & Field removes Roush from the panel, or asks him to step down. It's my understanding from attending the USATF convention in Reno last month that the panel is to report their findings to Logan by January 12th, which is next Monday. It might be too late to remove him, but we'll see.

NOTE: The US Olympic Committee contributed to this report.

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