U.S. Biathlon orders audit of athlete welfare and safety following AP report on sexual harassment

The U.S. Biathlon board of directors will hire an auditor to review “athlete wellness practices and team culture” after the Associated Press reported that a female team member had been sexually harassed and abused while racing on the elite World Cup circuit

Martha Bellisle
Monday 05 February 2024 22:17 GMT

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Louise Thomas

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The U.S. Biathlon board of directors has voted to hire an independent contractor to conduct an audit of “athlete wellness practices and team culture” following an Associated Press story that said a female team member had been sexually harassed and abused for years while racing on the elite World Cup circuit.

The AP reported last month that a U.S. Center for SafeSport investigation found that U.S. Biathlon national champion and two-time Olympian Joanne Reid had been sexually harassed by a ski-wax technician. The 18-month SafeSport investigation found that wax tech Petr “Gara” Garabik had engaged in repeated sexual harassment and unwanted sexual contact with Reid. The Czech citizen was suspended for six months and put on probation until December 2024.

“While U.S. Biathlon was not the subject of the investigation, we recognize that the wellbeing of athletes was adversely impacted,” U.S. Biathlon board chair Bob Hall and vice-chair Rachel Steer said in an email over the weekend to members, to which AP had access. “For that we sincerely apologize, and we are committed to strengthening our culture, oversight, and safeguards against future occurrences."

Under the plan, Steer will lead a panel that will outline the scope of the audit, select an auditor and act as the liaison during the process. They planned to form the panel and have the auditor in place within 30 days.

The auditor will evaluate athlete wellness and team culture, identify gaps and recommend improvements, the email said. The panel's work will be available through a dedicated section of the U.S. Biathlon website.

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