By Susanne Lyons, Acting CEO, United States Olympic Committee | April 02, 2018, 12:56 p.m. (ET)

 

The following letter was sent from USOC Acting CEO Susanne Lyons to the Washington Post on March 27, 2018, in response to a column by Sally Jenkins.

 

To the editor,

Sally Jenkins’s column, “Congress must fix the USOC, and that includes exorbitant executive spending” is not only filled with incorrect claims, it is insulting to our hardworking Olympians, Paralympians and the dedicated people who support them daily.

First, Ms. Jenkins mistakenly claims only 7 to 8 percent of the United States Olympic Committee’s 2016 revenue went to the athletes. That is patently false. In excess of 80 percent of our revenue supports athletes, not only with monetary stipends, but with resources such as medical insurance, tuition assistance, training centers and National Governing Body funding. Meanwhile, administrative expenses account for just 6 percent of the budget, and the remaining 12 percent is used for marketing and fundraising, which raises hundreds of millions of dollars for Team USA.

Second, we do not, nor were we ever intended to rely wholly on private donations for our funding, as Ms. Jenkins suggests. In fact, as one of the only National Olympic Committees in the world that is not government funded, sponsorship and TV agreements secured by the USOC make up the vast majority of our revenue – 87 percent – and are critical to the support we provide. We are a mission-driven nonprofit, yes, but we are not a charity. Just as we seek the top athletes to represent Team USA, we recruit the best talent to provide athlete services, sell sponsorships, and market and publicize our teams. That is what Team USA deserves – world-class support.

Third, our finances are fully disclosed, every year, in our annual report. The suggestion by Ms. Jenkins to the contrary is misleading and I invite you to look at our tax disclosures (form 990), audited financial statements or annual reports (located in the finance section of TeamUSA.org) if you need more information.

Like any organization, we are not without flaws and, as Ms. Jenkins suggests, we are actively working with Congress to identify and improve weaknesses in our system, particularly as they pertain to athlete safety. But for the Washington Post to completely ignore facts, print inflammatory half-truths and not offer the USOC the chance to respond is a disservice to your readers and the dedicated fans of Team USA.

Finally, our stewardship of limited revenue dollars is evidenced by our success not only at the Olympic Games, but also the Paralympic Games. Our mission is for our athletes to achieve their dreams of competitive excellence. And they do that, time and time again. Not every athlete has the honor of representing our country – that is the nature of sport. It is our job to field a competitive team on the world’s greatest stage.

Just weeks ago, the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games brought together people from around the world to watch and cheer as the best athletes in their field competed for Olympic and Paralympic gold. It was an international display of athletic achievement, peace and the convening power of sport. It is embarrassing for Ms. Jenkins to denigrate the Games by calling the “Olympic movement a misnomer” and it is insulting to the nearly 3,500 – including more than 300 from the United States – who competed in PyeongChang and the many more thousands of athletes who have competed in the Olympics and Paralympics since their inception.

It is our mission to support our athletes and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure they have the resources they need to compete and succeed.

Susanne Lyons
Acting CEO, United States Olympic Committee