I feel it is important to have an organization like SafeSport to protect victims of abuse in sports. How does SafeSport work, and can their platform be unfair?

We agree! Abuse in sport is unacceptable. Establishing protocols to protect minors and advocating for safety in sport are essential. To take a step in the right direction, the U.S. Center for SafeSport opened its doors in Denver, CO, in March 2017 as a federally authorized organization under the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 (which became Public Law No: 115-126 on February 14, 2018).

Since SafeSport is a new organization with broad authority, we believe it is important for Congress to provide oversight in order to ensure that SafeSport is effectively fulfilling its mission while treating all those under its jurisdiction fairly and equitably. If stakeholders subject to SafeSport jurisdiction don’t have confidence in SafeSport’s fairness and competence, that undermines the Center’s ability to achieve its congressional mandate of ensuring athletes’ safety.

We are confident SafeSport can operate in a manner that protects athletes and treats all participants in the SafeSport resolution process fairly. AES is committed to working with both SafeSport and Congress to achieve that goal.

The changes Athletes For Equity In Sport seek are to ensure a better process for both the person making a charge and the person being named in a charge. We want SafeSport to implement more appropriate safeguards and to establish impartial procedures in their investigations. This will enable SafeSport to achieve the objectives intended by Congress.

What sports are represented by Athletes for Equity in Sport?

Athletes for Equity in Sport currently consists of U.S. Olympic and Paralympian female and male athletes, trainers, managers, and enthusiasts from the sports of cycling, figure skating, fencing, wrestling, gymnastics, boxing, and the equestrian disciplines. AES’ mission is to ensure that any person involved in SafeSport’s reporting and resolution process is afforded participation in a timely, equitable, and confidential manner.

If you have engaged SafeSport or been the subject of a SafeSport investigation, we would welcome hearing from you about your experience and whether you believe the process was fair and equitable.

How do you utilize donations?

SafeSport passed with bipartisan congressional support. Now we are dedicated to taking it a step further by identifying ways the organization can improve. Our goal is to address issues with SafeSport in order to help improve the processes on which SafeSport policies were built.

In order to do so, we hired an expert team of business professionals, attorneys, and congressional lobbying experts to raise awareness and bring forward questions on how SafeSport can execute integral changes to its procedures.

SafeSport receives more than 200 reports per month of sexual misconduct or abuse in U.S. Olympic and Paralympic sports. Positive changes need to be implemented so that the organization can better cope with the scope of the reports as well as better protect athletes.

Thank you to the gracious donors who have stepped up to support AES’ mission, as it has afforded us the opportunity to make a difference.

Why should I care about how SafeSport operates?

If you believe in basic fairness and equity, and if you care about the athletes and coaches who compete because of their love of sport, then you should be concerned about the abuses of power being committed by SafeSport on a regular basis. 

What kinds of abuses of power has SafeSport committed?

SafeSport behaves in ways that are fundamentally inconsistent with the standards of fairness that govern the American system of justice. The resulting abuses, although too numerous to list here, include the following:

  • SafeSport has allowed itself to be weaponized against coaches and athletes by people who are motivated by professional jealousy, business disputes, divorces, or attempts to secure financial settlements. Despite ample evidence of such weaponization of the SafeSport process by those with improper motives, SafeSport has steadfastly refused to put in place appropriate safeguards and protections against it.
  • At the same time, individuals who attempt to make what they believe are valid complaints to SafeSport are often never provided by SafeSport with any response; even if they do receive a response, they are frequently left without meaningful direction or recourse.
  • Athletes and coaches are commonly found by SafeSport to have violated rules and are banned from their sport before they are given reasonable notice and an opportunity to defend themselves.
  • After being found in violation by SafeSport, an athlete or coach is permanently banned from their sport unless they can overturn SafeSport’s decision in an arbitration — in front of arbitrators who are exclusively contracted by SafeSport.
  • The request for an arbitration appeal must be filed by the alleged violator within five days of SafeSport’s decision and accompanied by a fee of more than $5,000. If an athlete or coach fails to react within five days, or cannot come up with the fee, then SafeSport’s decision becomes final, and the sporting ban becomes permanent.
  • The accused party must also identify — and find a way to pay for — an attorney to handle the arbitration, all within five days, and all without any outside financial assistance.
  • The names of athletes and coaches found by SafeSport to be in violation are published on a worldwide list of offenders as soon as SafeSport makes a decision, before the accused party has been given fair notice and an opportunity to defend themselves.
  • SafeSport has found some people in violation based on allegations that are decades old and that have been disproven in courts of law.
  • SafeSport often fails to provide accused athletes and coaches with fair and adequate notice of their alleged violations. It is all too common for athletes and coaches to hear from friends and associates that they have been permanently banned from their sport before they themselves have been notified by SafeSport – and long before they have been given an opportunity for a fair hearing.

Have any of the athletes or coaches who have been victimized by SafeSport complained publicly about how they were treated?

Most of those caught up in the Kafkaesque SafeSport process do not have the resources to defend themselves adequately or to take their cases to the public. Many others are afraid of the power of SafeSport and are understandably reluctant to draw attention to themselves. Still, there are brave athletes and coaches who have spoken up, and you can find some of their testimonials here.

Why does Athletes for Equity in Sport need my help?

First and foremost, a successful effort to expose the abuses of SafeSport and then to reform the system will be enormously expensive and time-consuming. It is thus beyond the ability of any individual athlete or coach to accomplish. This is why we need your donation.

In addition, achieving the kind of systemic reforms necessary with regard to SafeSport is very difficult to achieve through just a single case.

What is truly needed is exactly what Athletes for Equity in Sport seeks to provide: a well-funded and fully staffed program to both identify SafeSport’s abuses of power and then to push through the necessary reforms.

What is Athletes for Equity in Sport proposing to do about the problems you have identified? What will the organization do with the money I donate?

Our organization is already bringing together some of the best talent in the country — people who care about sport, who are committed to the principles of equity and fairness, who are expert in the legal and legislative systems, and who are deeply concerned about the way the Center for SafeSport operates.

With your support, we will mount a far-reaching effort, utilizing all of the legal and other options available to us to ensure that SafeSport is made fair and equitable for each and every participant.

Who are the people in charge of Athletes for Equity in Sport?

President – Diane Carney
Vice President – Kelly Cormaci
Secretary – Vanessa Brown
Treasurer – Richard Cyr

Legal Council
Frost Brown Todd LLC
Michael Romm, Esq

Editor
Betsie Bolger

Certified Public Accountant
Applebaum, Herzog & Associates

Athletes For Equity In Sport Inc is a 501(c)(6) non-profit organization.

  • No Salaries for Board of Directors
  • BOD and committee members are all volunteer
  • All money raised goes to line items in budget to cover Lawyers, Education, Publicity, Accounting, etc. 
  • See below budget for details