USOC appoints Wendy Guthrie to athlete safety role

USOC appoints Wendy Guthrie to athlete safety role

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has named Wendy Guthrie as its senior director of athlete safety.

The appointment, which comes after a series of scandals within sport in the US, is being described by the organisation as its latest step to ‘help prevent and respond to abuse, and enhance athlete safety’.

It comes after a series of lawsuits and accusations against USOC by former women’s gymnasts saying not enough was done to safeguard them from molestation and abuse from coaches. Athletes in swimming and taekwondo have also made allegations against the organisation over sex abuse issues.

USOC is currently cooperating with a US Congressional investigation and an independent probe into issues associated with the Larry Nassar gymnastics scandal. A total of 156 female athletes said in court that the former US Olympic team doctor abused them over a period of two decades. He was subsequently sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.

In her new role, Guthrie will lead the implementation of all athlete safety policies and procedures, while she will work closely with National Governing Bodies (NGB) on their athlete safety efforts.

In addition, Guthrie will lead training throughout the US Olympic and Paralympic bodies.

Prior to her appointment at USOC, Guthrie spent six years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) working as senior executive of human resources. USOC says her role sparked ‘cultural change’ at the law enforcement agency, as well as enhanced processes and policies for a workforce of more than 36,000 FBI employees.

Guthrie has also previously worked in the college athletics sector, overseeing a governance restructure as interim commissioner at the Northwest Conference and developing strategic initiatives as chief of staff at the West Coast Conference. She has also led the Seattle University athletics department and the Pacific Coast Softball Conference.

“I am thrilled to join the Team USA family,” said Guthrie. “The USOC is focused on keeping athlete safety at the forefront of its mission and this position ensures that focus. I am committed to working tirelessly to ensure athlete safety and wellbeing as we collectively seek to eliminate abuse in sport.”

“The importance of athlete safety cannot be overstated, and this is another critical step in our fight to prevent future abuse,” added USOC’s acting chief executive Susanne Lyons. “Wendy will have a deliberate focus on athlete safety, helping us improve our processes, and ensure the necessary policies and procedures are in place and enforced across the US Olympic and Paralympic community.

“Her demonstrated strategic vision for improving processes and concern for athlete welfare, coupled with a background in the FBI, will allow her to succeed as she steps into this key role on our team.”