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A Case of Mistaken Identity: A SafeSport Scenario

*AES has purposely changed the sport and/or other details as to not lead to the identification of any reporting party, respondent and/or witness.*

A popular, successful, family man and Olympic medalist who was a member of the Olympic ski team in the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympic Games has for 37 years coached and helped athletes with dreams of skiing in the Olympics. This Olympian has a short and muscular build with a low center of gravity great for balance in downhill skiing. He’s traveled and skied around the world, eventually making his home in Lake Placid.

Three years ago (2018) a SafeSport report was filled against the Olympic skier alleging sexual assault of a then 18-year-old female when the Olympian skier was 25 (34 years ago)

Because the procedure at SafeSport is to release only the initials of the reporting party to the accused, the Olympic skier had no recollection of the conduct alleged. SafeSport and the Olympian exchanged e-mails regarding an interview that would not have a record provided of the questions & answers, nor were notes or recording of the Interview allowed. With no exchange of information from SafeSport to the Olympian and no record of the requested interview there is an inability to prepare a response to an accusation with no facts or evidence other than an assault allegedly happened in ski area in California in January 1989 and the reporting parties initials.

The interview process could not be agreed to between the Olympian’s counsel and SafeSport. Thereafter, SafeSport declared publicly on the SafeSport suspension list and notified two NGBs (Skiing & Para-Olympic Alpine as the Olympian was a coach and member of both NGBs) that the Olympic skier was banned for life for sexual misconduct with a minor. No investigation had taken place and no defense had been available for the Olympian to prove by travel records he was not in that location on the date in question. The Olympian having had extensive travel also had extensive records of where and when he was on the January date in question which amounted to concrete and relevant evidence.  

Due to the NGB & SafeSport public notice of the lifetime-ban from sports the internet was full of the unfounded accusations and what would be proven to be a case of mistaken identity. When a real opportunity to have the allegations against the Olympic skier was discussed with the description of the perpetrator considered and the dates and locations of the alleged assault substantiated, it was discovered the assault on the teenager in California in 1989 was a 6’3” slim man. The Olympian skier falsely accused is under 6 ft and travel records had the Olympian verifiably in another location outside the USA on the date in question. 

When all this information was reviewed by SafeSport they dropped the case and issued reinstatement directions to the two NGBs. It was great news for the Olympian but what about the permanent internet slander of the Olympian’s name? Reputation? The impact on his family when a Google search brings up the SafeSport suspension and not the mistaken identity which was missed by SafeSport investigators along with the permanent ban for sexual misconduct? It effectively and unfairly ruins the Olympian’s public record. 

Questions

Why must SafeSport procedures jump to conclusions publicly without fully investigating allegations? 

Why must the interview process be so difficult and risk an incorrect conclusion when the weight of the SafeSport decision bears such public harm?

Where are the safeguards and verification of the SafeSport report so mistaken identities are prevented before sanctions are implemented and announced publicly?

Media contact
Diane Carney
Athletesforequity@gmail.com

SOURCE Athletes for Equity in Sport Inc.

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Athletes for Equity in Sport
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Previous Updates







  • Bullying & Sexual Harassment SafeSport Case Study| News Update 



  • Athletes For Equity In Sport’s Response to Recent SafeSport Actions| News Update 


  • The Three Components Of Our Strategy To Strengthen SafeSport| News Update 








  • Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019 | News Update 








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