New CEO Hirshland Delivers Moving Speech In Appearance Before USOC
New USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland in her first major appearance before the U.S. Olympic family on Thursday "choked back tears" and let them know that "someone in power was listening," according to Eddie Pells of the AP. The most memorable moment from Hirshland came when she "gasped for breath, held back a cry and closed her speech." She said, "I, for one, think our future is very bright." It was the "most important speech" of Hirshland's life. Over a "sometimes-halting" 15-minute speech in Colorado Springs, she "tackled, head-on, the sex-abuse trauma that has roiled the USOC and the U.S. Olympic team as a whole." In many ways, the USOC's success has been "defined over the decades almost solely by medals." During a speech in which he introduced Hirshland, outgoing USOC Chair Larry Probst acknowledged that "wasn't good enough." Probst: "For all the triumphs and successes that we've achieved during the last decade, it is our collective failure to keep you safe that that will forever cause me deep and profound regret." Hirshland spelled out a "couple of ways that athletes' voices will be better heard, through the athletes' commission, the U.S. Olympians Committee and the USOC ombudsman's office." USA Track & Field CEO Max Siegel said of Hirshland's speech, "It humanized her and made her relatable. She's got a tough job ahead of her. She demonstrated openness, to not just listen but to try to truly understand the challenges we face." Meanwhile, the Olympic world was "roiled Thursday by the World Anti-Doping Agency's decision to reinstate Russia's suspended anti-doping agency." Probst said, "Suggesting that Russia has lived up to its obligations is disingenuous, and today's decision to reinstate RUSADA flies in the face of WADA's responsibility to clean athletes everywhere" (AP, 9/20).