On a day three more officials resigned from the U.S. Olympic Committee and USOC President Marty Mankamyer fended off a movement to push her out of power, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) scolded the USOC's management and called for organization leaders to meet with him by the end of the month to discuss the future of the U.S. Olympic movement.
In a statement released this morning, Stevens described the USOC's leadership turmoil as "troubling," saying, "We cannot allow the strength the USOC has achieved since the Amateur Sports Act was enacted to be eroded by personnel problems or failure of its management."
Shortly after Stevens's statement was released, three members of the USOC's ethics oversight committee tendered their resignations in apparent protest of the USOC's failure on Monday to sanction CEO Lloyd Ward, who had been charged with directing USOC officials to help his brother's business win a lucrative contract for the 2003 Pan American Games.
The USOC's ethics oversight committee investigated the charges in recent months and unanimously determined last week that Ward's behavior had created the appearance of a conflict of interest and that he broke the organization's disclosure rules. However, the ethics committee also said the matter could have been resolved by timely compliance counseling. The USOC executive committee supported that report and did not discipline Ward.
USOC executive committee member Brian Derwin left the meeting early and later resigned. On Wednesday, Patrick Rodgers, who was essentially singled out in the ethics commission report, resigned from his post as the organization's internal compliance officer. Rodgers said Ward had committed clear ethics violations and should have been reprimanded.
None of the three officials who resigned today -- Steven Potts, the Chairman of the Fellows Program of the Ethics Research Center in Washington; Ed Petry, the executive director of the Ethics Officers Association of Boston; and John Kuelbs, the general counsel for Teledyne in Los Angeles -- returned calls seeking comment. It is unclear whether they left because of the executive committee's failure to sanction Ward or because of a dispute with the ethics oversight committee process. All are believed to have close ties to Rodgers.
All signed their names in support of the ethics oversight committee report last week. Former White House Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein chairs the committee and Thurgood Marshall Jr. is the vice chair. Other members of the 10-member committee included Dan Knise, the former director of Washington's 2012 Olympic bid, and Nick Peterson, a rower from Alexandria.
Mankamyer said she believed the resignations demanded a "reevaluation" of the facts surrounding the Ward case. She said she thought it might be appropriate to turn the matter over to an independent investigative commission.
"This," she said, "begins to put a different light on some of the facts."
Fifteen of the 22 members of the executive committee were in apparent disagreement with Mankamyer on that front. In a statement released Friday night, the 15 members restated their endorsement of the ethics commission report. The group also stated that, "We wish to draw attention to the Ethics Oversight Committee's stated concerns about the attempts to abuse the ethics process. We believe the recent conduct of certain members of the Olympic family is an example of continued attempts to abuse that process."
That comment is believed to have been directed at least partly toward Rodgers and Mankamyer.
Mankamyer said she was surprised to have been summoned by the USOC executive committee at about 10 p.m. Thursday night to discuss burgeoning concerns within the organization about her leadership. Several USOC officials have said there has been growing dissension with Mankamyer, whom some members believe has attempted to undermine Ward's ability to function in the organization.
Mankamyer said a number of executive committee members expressed their dissatisfaction about her handling of the Ward situation, citing a lack of communication about the ethics committee review. She said she told them that she kept certain matters to herself out of a desire to keep information from being leaked to the press.
She said she was not asked to resign and has no intention of doing so. However, other USOC officials say Mankamyer has been encouraged to resign.
"I'm not going to budge, because it's so clear this organization does not need instability," she said, adding that, "I am elected by the [120-plus] member board of directors, not the [22-member] executive committee. Whatever might transpire would absolutely have to wind up being reviewed by the board of directors."
Mankamyer said she feels no tension with Ward and, in fact, supported his election 14 months ago over the popular Scott Blackman. However, many close to Ward and Mankamyer say it is apparent that their relationship is strained.
Ward hinted at his frustration with Mankamyer when asked today about Stevens's statement.
"I am very supportive of Senator Stevens's statement," he said. "I look forward to participating in this inquiry into this matter . . . I'm concerned what's going on here and now. I'm concerned about what's happening relative to the ineffective governance of the Olympic movement . . . and so I look forward to the inquiry."
Asked to explain what he meant by ineffective governance, Ward said he had been dismayed that USOC matters had recently been "aired in the press, misrepresented in the press and essentially [promulgated] in the press to support personal agendas," adding that the disclosures reflected "totally inappropriate and ineffective governance."
Ward declined to comment when asked if he was referring to Mankamyer.
In his statement, Stevens said it was time to review the governance structure of the USOC, which was defined by the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, to make it more streamlined and responsive to Congress and the American people.
"Recent news reports concerning matters associated with the leadership and executive management of the United States Olympic Committee are troubling, and invite the attention of those of us in Congress responsible for ensuring that America's Olympic interests are fully and effectively served," the statement read.