NEW YORK – Scott Blackmun resigned as chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee on Wednesday, stepping aside so he can tackle his worsening bout with prostate cancer and to allow the federation to move forward under new leadership to address the sex-abuse scandal that has rocked gymnastics and other sports.
The 60-year-old CEO was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January and did not attend the Pyeongchang Games.
Blackmun leaves as calls for his ouster were growing louder — from two U.S. senators and, more notably, from a number of gymnasts and other athletes who said neither he nor the USOC at large reacted properly to cases including those involving Larry Nassar, the doctor who sexually abused members of the U.S. gymnastics team.
The USOC is conducting an independent review of when Blackmun and others learned the details about abuse cases at USA Gymnastics and whether they responded appropriately.
Susanne Lyons, a member of the board, will step down from that position and serve as acting CEO while the search for Blackmun’s replacement begins.
At a news conference to kick off the Olympics, chairman Larry Probst said Blackmun had served the USOC with distinction and the board found no reason to relieve him. In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Probst said Blackmun has since received more information about the treatment he’ll need.
“We need a CEO in place who can (tend) to this current situation and work hard to get things back on a positive track,” Probst said.
IOC lifts ban on Russia
Russia’s ban from the Olympic movement was lifted on Wednesday despite two failed doping tests by its athletes at the Pyeongchang Winter Games, the AP reports.
The decision by the International Olympic Committee appears to be an attempt to draw a line under the state-concocted doping scandal that tarnished the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The IOC allowed more than 160 athletes it determined were clean to compete in Sochi as “Olympic Athletes from Russia” in Pyeongchang earlier this month with a prohibition on the national anthem or flag in venues.
Russia’s hopes of marching under its flag at Sunday’s closing ceremony in South Korea were stymied by the two positive tests for banned substances. But the IOC said Wednesday that all remaining test results were negative, clearing the path for Russia’s return to the Olympic fold.