Outrage as disgraced former US Olympic chief Scott Blackmun gets US$2.4 million payoff

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The former chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), who was severely criticised for his handling of the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, received US$2.4 million (S$3.25 million) in severance pay, official records revealed on Wednesday (July 3).

Scott Blackmun stepped down as chief of the USOC in February last year, roughly one month after former national gymnastics team doctor Nassar was jailed for life for sexually abusing more than 250 athletes, including several stars of the USA’s 2012 and 2016 gold medal-winning Olympic teams.

A subsequent independent report commissioned by the USOC, which is now known as the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), was scathing of Blackmun’s role in the scandal.

The report by external investigators alleged Blackmun and other Olympic chiefs had failed to react swiftly when first warned of allegations surrounding Nassar, concealing the doctor’s crimes until the scandal erupted into the open in late 2016.

Blackmun told investigators he had “initiated an internal effort at the USOC to alert his SafeSport team to the allegations and to confirm that the USOC was taking all appropriate steps to respond to the allegations and ensure athlete safety”.

However, investigators later concluded “no such conversations were had, and no such steps were taken”.

His multi-million-dollar severance payment was revealed in a financial report made public on Wednesday.

USOPC chairman Susanne Lyons said the payoff was necessary to facilitate “new leadership to guide the organisation forward, as well as Blackmun’s serious health challenges”.

Blackmun left his post after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2018.

Attorney John Manly, who represented many of Nassar’s abused patients, slammed the payout.

“Blackmun knew Larry Nassar was a child molester in summer 2015,” Manly wrote on Twitter. “He concealed that fact from the public, the media, police & worst of all the athletes & their parents.

“Instead of going to jail he’s been rewarded w/2.4 mill. by USOC leaders. Enough!!”

Some of the biggest names in US gymnastics were abused by Nassar, including Simone Biles and fellow gold medallists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.

Blackmun was also sharply criticised for bungling the USOC’s response to the crisis after it erupted, and was forced to apologise after the organisation failed to send a representative to harrowing victim-impact testimony at Nassar’s sentencing.

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