In 2021, Athletes for Equity in Sport (AES) continued to speak up and advocate on behalf of participants
in Olympic sports who are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Center for SafeSport (SafeSport) regarding
concerns about the SafeSport response and resolution process and its impact on both complainants and
respondents. AES used 2021 to focus on outreach, urging greater oversight and reforms of SafeSport
and providing additional support and assistance to members of the Olympic sporting community
involved in SafeSport cases. Our goal remains the safety and well-being of all athletes by working to
create a SafeSport process that is competent, fair, and trusted. AES had a busy and productive year with
more work to do in 2022.
AES Meets with SafeSport CEO Ju’Riese Colon
For well over one-year, AES has tried to meet with SafeSport officials to discuss AES policy goals and how
AES and SafeSport can work together for a level playing field. In December, after insistence and
persistence, AES President Diane Carney, AES Vice-president Kelly Cormaci and Athletes Equity Resource
Center’s (AERC) President Susie Schoellkopf, met with SafeSport CEO Ju’Riese Colon, SafeSport General
Counsel Heather O’Brien and SafeSport Vice-president for Response and Resolution Bobby Click.
Engaging in a direct dialogue with SafeSport has been part of the AES Mission Statement from the
beginning and we view this exchange as an important step forward in our efforts to fix what AES
believes is broken about the SafeSport process. In the meeting, AES stressed its intent to engage in an
ongoing dialogue with SafeSport in the coming year about ways to make improvements to SafeSport to
better protect the safety of athletes and to ensure trust in the process by all participants. AES raised
specific concerns about SafeSport’s lack of transparency in its operations and procedures that
undermine faith and confidence in SafeSport, lengthy delays in resolving cases, some for more than a
year, and the lack of safeguards against weaponization of the SafeSport reporting and response process.
AES has already sent a letter to SafeSport following the meeting seeking additional information about
the topics discussed and requesting a follow-up meeting early in 2022.
AES supports the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics
In 2020, Congress established a 16-member Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and
Paralympics to conduct an independent review on the state of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics and to
report its findings and make recommendations to Congress on needed reforms to strengthen existing
governance structures and improve the experience of Olympic and Paralympic athletes in the future. All
16 appointments to the Commission were finalized in April of 2021, including the appointment of Nancy
Hogshead Makar, Founder and CEO of Champion Women, whom AES was pleased to recommend for
In our outreach to members of the Commission, AES has urged members to prioritize athlete safety as
part of its oversight work and to look closely at SafeSport and how it needs to be improved to effectively
achieve its mission. AES has also worked to support funding for the Commission and is pleased that the
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee recommended that $2 million be allocated for the Commission in
the federal budget and appropriations process Congress is currently working to finalize, which would
enable the Commission to begin its important work. AES believes the Commission provides an important
opportunity to tackle some tough issues facing the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement and will
deliver to Congress specific and informed recommendations on needed improvements, including
changes to SafeSport. This Commission will certainly raise awareness of the many pitfalls seen by AES.
AES Raises Profile on Capitol Hill
Over the past year, AES has conducted 25 meetings with staff of relevant Members of Congress with
jurisdiction and oversight of SafeSport to promote AES policy goals and objectives. These meetings have
enabled AES to raise its profile on Capitol Hill and educate key members of the House and Senate about
AES concerns regarding due process, the management and operational integrity of SafeSport,
weaponization and abuse of the SafeSport reporting process, and the lack of internal accountability
mechanisms at SafeSport needed to inspire faith and confidence in SafeSport decisions. AES has
provided firsthand knowledge through our pro bono attorneys, providing essential facts and experiences
to these conversations for balanced oversight suggestions.
Specifically, AES urged Members of Congress to take a closer look at SafeSport’s operations and
procedures and to conduct more aggressive oversight. This would allow Members to see for themselves
what improvements need to be made so that SafeSport can fulfill the mission Congress intended, to
protect the safety and well-being of athletes while treating all parties involved in the SafeSport process
in a fair and equitable manner. In 2022, AES will continue its outreach to Congress and urge support for
AES and AERC Offer Support and Assistance to Athletes
Members of AES established the Athletes Equity Resource Center (AERC) in 2021 to provide education,
support, and assistance to athletes and others who are impacted by SafeSport in all 51 Olympic Sports.
AERC provides information and educational materials for all parties in cases of alleged abuse or
misconduct. AERC offers these materials to ensure that each party has equal access to resources they
need for their opportunity for a fair and just process.
In conjunction with AERC, a 501(c)(3) accepting contributions and donations that are tax-deductible to
the donor, AES produced a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) to promote the AERC Athletes
Assistance Program Hotline (855-639-3009). Athletes and their families in all 51 Olympic sports, can call
the hotline 24/7/365 to learn about available resources and assistance to help them navigate the
SafeSport process or to speak to a professional mental health counselor. The PSA aired during the CBS
Sports Network broadcast of the 2021 National Horse Show and can also be viewed on our website at
To learn more about the important work AERC is doing to support athletes and how you can help, please
visit their website at www.athletesequityresourcecenter.com.
AES Experienced Significant Growth in 2021
In 2021, the collaborative efforts of AES have increased membership, added representatives from new
sports, and achieved significant donations to support AES and its ongoing work to improve SafeSport.
AES is proud to report $2.5 million in direct and in-kind contributions from generous supporters who
identify with the AES mission and have donated significant time and money to our work since AES was
founded in 2019.
In addition to our ongoing fundraising efforts, AES has also added new members to the AES leadership
team, including attorney Steve Silvey, who serves as AES Counsel (pro bono). Other talented and
experienced attorneys who have joined the AES Executive Group this year include Mike Caddell and
Cynthia Chapmen. These and many other members who joined AES in 2021 have added new energy,
expertise, and incredible value to our bi-monthly Executive Group calls and strategy discussions that
have been held since October 2019 and will continue in 2022.
AES was also pleased to welcome new members in 2021 representing a growing list of sports including
pentathlon, badminton, wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, cycling, hockey, equestrian, figure skating, and
With new talent and resources in our corner, AES is planning an active agenda to improve SafeSport in 2022. Our work will include active engagement with Congress, the Commission on the State of U.S. Olympics and Paralympics, and The Center for SafeSport senior leaders.
AES is grateful for the generous donations it has received and the countless hours our members have
freely given in support of AES and the work we do every day to make SafeSport work better for
everyone. To learn more about the work AES is doing and how you can volunteer or donate, please visit
www.athletesforequity.org or email [email protected].
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