Athletes for Equity in Sport (AES) seeks to strengthen safety and fairness in US Olympic Sports by making the operations, policies and procedures of the U.S. Center for SafeSport fair and equitable for both Complainants and Respondents. Our approach has three components: public education to raise awareness about SafeSport and the importance of athlete safety, engaging policymakers thru lobbying and legislative proposals in Congress who have oversight of Olympic Sports to promote effective policies at SafeSport and advocating for the rights of both complainants and respondents in the legal arena when appropriate.
Our Three-Prong Strategy Approach
Public Education: SafeSport was established to work for the participants in Olympic sports, keep athletes safe and promote an environment in which athletes can thrive and achieve their best results. With those same goals at the forefront, AES’s initial strategy focuses on raising awareness of the fundamental flaws in this important organization. AES supports greater transparency, oversight and accountability at SafeSport which we believe will inspire trust and confidence in the SafeSport process benefiting all parties involved. By increasing community engagement and public awareness of SafeSport’s shortcomings, AES aims to shed light on the inequity of SafeSport’s current procedures with the intent of rectifying those concerns to ensure fair treatment for complainants and respondents.
Legislation and Lobbying: Congress entrusted SafeSport with broad powers to investigate and resolve allegations of abuse in the Olympic Sporting Community. However, to be effective in achieving its mission to protect athletes, SafeSport must maintain the trust and respect of all participants under its jurisdiction. AES aspires to educate policymakers on the existing flaws in the SafeSport system, recommend policy proposals to make improvements, and offer compelling evidence why current practices require changes to SafeSport to protect the safety of athletes and all participates in the Olympic sporting community.
Legal: The AES legal team closely monitors SafeSport conduct, including without limitation, investigations, interviews, adjudication, published penalties and subsequent arbitrations. This monitoring is undertaken to identify deviations from stated SafeSport practices and procedures, to document inconsistencies and abuses and to deter arbitrary application of the SafeSport process. It is the goal of the AES legal team to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the legal rights of Claimants and Respondents to a fair and equitable process, free from bias, applied in a consistent and even handed manner, to protect athletes of all ages against the conduct SafeSport was tasked by Congress to protect. Members of the AES Inc. legal team routinely represent Claimants and Respondents in SafeSport matters and are acutely aware of trends and actual application of the Safe Sport process for the benefit of vulnerable athletes. Ultimately, the AES legal team may litigate matters for the benefit of all athletes in all sports if the Executive Committee approves proposed legal actions recommended by the AES legal team.
AES has never wavered in its support for SafeSport’s primary mission of protecting athletes within the Olympic movement from any threats of abuse as well as working to ensure SafeSport is not misused by attempts to undermine fair competition. We recognize that SafeSport was created out of the failure of national governing bodies (NGBs) and the USOPC to properly respond to credible reports of sexual abuse by trainers and officials; their failure to report these crimes to law enforcement; and their willingness to hide the extent of that abuse over decades all must be addressed.
As stakeholders in SafeSport’s effort, it is incumbent upon each of us to be engaged in the process and assist in making SafeSport better for everyone. To that end, AES believes it is crucial for SafeSport to develop fair and comprehensive procedures that will ensure that it is successful in carrying out its mandate. We believe that an open and transparent discussion of SafeSport issues will help guide SafeSport toward a process that is just and fair to everyone within its jurisdiction.