Copyright 2018 Orange County Register
All Rights Reserved
Orange County Register (California)
USA Badminton, the sport's Anaheim-based national governing body, has failed to complete criminal background checks on nearly half the individuals required to undergo such screening under U.S. Olympic Committee policies, according to a recent USOC audit obtained by the Orange County Register.
The USOC was so concerned about USA Badminton's failure to comply with USOC and U.S. Center for SafeSport policies that it raised the possibility of terminating the organization's national governing body status last month.
The USOC's internal audit division found four areas of "high risk" in USA Badminton's Athlete Safety program, including failing to conduct required criminal background checks on members, not following SafeSport training requirements, not verifying SafeSport course completion in a timely manner, and not requiring background checks or SafeSport training for individuals in "frequent contact with athletes," including medical personnel.
"Badminton's contracted doctors and other medical personnel, sanctioned club directors, and administrators are not required to complete background checks and Safe Sport training [by USA Badminton] and should be subject to both," Wendy Guthrie, USOC vice president for athlete safety, wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to USA Badminton Chief Executive Jeff Dyrek.
Citing "the degree of risk associated with these deficiencies and to ensure compliance with the USOC and U.S. Center for SafeSport policies," Guthrie outlined a series of measures for USA Badminton to comply with in a 30-day period or risk being decertified.
"As you know, under the U.S. Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, the USOC is responsible for recognizing sport organizations as National Governing Bodies, for implementing the Act's NGB eligibility requirements, and for enforcing these requirements," Guthrie wrote Dyrek. "If for any reason USA Badminton fails to take the enumerated steps above, the USOC will initiate a review and possible termination of its recognition as an NGB."
Dyrek, in an interview Monday, said USA Badminton did not dispute the USOC's findings.
"This has brought these things to our attention," Dyrek said. "This athlete safety is paramount to what we do. We're taking this report seriously."
Dyrek said USA Badminton provided the USOC a response within the 30-day window.
"We didn't identify everyone" joining or working for USA Badminton, Dyrek said, "so now we can go back and better check everyone."
Dyrek, however, said he was unable to say how many of the individuals identified by the USOC as not having undergone criminal background checks and/or SafeSport training are now in compliance.
"I don't know specifics," he said.
The revelation of USA Badminton's noncompliance with athlete safety requirements comes against the backdrop of the Larry Nassar controversy, the largest sex abuse scandal in American sports history.
Nassar, the longtime U.S. Olympic and USA Gymnastics women's national team physician sexually assaulted more than 300 gymnasts and young athletes, including at least six Olympic champions. USA Gymnastics officials were made aware of Nassar's sexual abuse but took a number of steps to keep allegations of his abuse from becoming public. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was arrested earlier this month for felony evidence tampering.
USA Badminton has had its own sex abuse scandals this year.
Bay Area coach Bob Malaythong, a six-time U.S. champion and 2008 Olympian, was arrested in Santa Clara County in July after being found inside his 2018 Maserati with a 17-year-old female student near a public park. Malaythong was charged with suspicion of annoying /molesting a minor and sexual assault.
USA Badminton in January was forced to move its U.S. Junior Championships from a facility in suburban Chicago owned by banned volleyball coach Rick Butler. The junior tournament features around 400 athletes between the ages of 11 and 19. USA Badminton awarded the event to the Great Lakes Volleyball Center owned by Butler and his wife. Butler was banned by USA Volleyball in 1995. The ban was partially lifted in 2000 but allegations of sexual abuse continued to hound Butler, creating national headlines. Butler was the focus of a July 2015 investigation by ESPN's Outside the Lines.
USA Volleyball awarded the 2018 U.S. Junior tournament to Great Lakes in September 2017.
National governing bodies are required to abide by the USOC and the U.S. Center for SafeSport's policies and procedures in order maintain their certification as an NGB with the USOC. The USOC-created- and-funded U.S. Center for SafeSport opened in 2017. NGBs are also required to maintain their own athlete safety programs.
Under the USOC's athlete safety program, NGBs are required to conduct criminal background checks, at least every two years, for those individuals the NGB "formally authorizes, approves or appoints (a) to a position of authority over, or (b) to have frequent contact with athletes" and to provide "education and training concerning the key elements of (NGB's) athlete safety program for (1) those individuals it formally authorizes, approves or appoints (a) to a position of authority over, or (b) to have frequent contact with athletes and (2) NGB staff."
The USOC audit, however, found that USA Badminton was at "high risk" in four athlete safety areas:
• Not following the required background check process and policies.
"A sampling of 25 individuals that were required to have criminal background checks were tested as part of the audit," Guthrie wrote Jeff Dyrek . Badminton's records indicated that no background check was completed for 12 of these 25 (48%) individuals."
• Not following its SafeSport training requirements.
"A sampling of 25 individuals that were required to complete SafeSport training were tested as part of the audit," Guthrie wrote. "Badminton's records indicated that SafeSport training was not compliant for 14 of these 25 (56%) individuals."
• USA Badminton's members use an online registration system to become new members or renew their membership. Badminton's membership registration system allows members to enter their own SafeSport training completion dates.
"The members are then required to submit their SafeSport Certificate to Badminton to verify the information provided was accurate," Guthrie wrote. "The verification process is not happening in a timely manner."
• Failing to require doctors and other medical staff, club directors and administrators to complete background checks and Safe-Sport training.
"We need to start doing that," Dyrek said. "If we're going to hire an athletic trainer for an event, we need to make sure they've gone through a background check and SafeSport training."
Read More of Today's AB Headlines
Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter