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USOC Official Roush Resigns

From the Associated Press:

Steve Roush resigned from the U.S. Olympic Committee on Tuesday, leaving a post in which he played a key role in organizing logistics for American athletes at the last three games.

He was the USOC's chief of sport performance since 2003. For the three years before that, he worked as sports partnership director.

His duties were expected to be curtailed in a reorganization dividing the sports performance division into two sections: one for operations and logistics and another for athletes and national governing bodies.

"While the decision to leave the USOC is not easy, I am confident the time is right," Roush said.

The USOC said his resignation is "effective this month."

Roush will be leaving five months after the Beijing Olympics, where he got entangled in a controversy involving cyclists who wore masks upon their arrival at the Beijing airport.

The cyclists complained they were treated rudely by Roush, who they said threatened to revoke their Olympic eligibility if they didn't issue an apology for offending their hosts.

The USOC drafted a letter of apology, acknowledging that parts of the meeting with Roush were handled poorly. But the athletes weren't satisfied, and held a news conference in which they called for his firing.

Roush, 50, was not fired, but instead resigned to pursue other opportunities.

The cycling episode aside, Roush was widely considered one of the most active advocates of athletes in the American Olympic movement. In the six years leading to the Beijing Olympics, he made more than two dozen trips to China to ensure optimal conditions -- everything from living quarters, to the food they ate, to their training facilities.

He did the same thing for the athletes when they trained at home.

In the halls of the USOC, he is given huge credit for the team's ability to hold off China in the medal count at last year's Olympics, 110-100 -- something chief executive officer Jim Scherr and former USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth predicted would not happen.

"Steve's unwavering commitment to excellence on the field of play will be the hallmark of his tenure at the USOC," Scherr said. "He has been tireless in making certain our athletes and NGBs (national governing bodies) have the resources and support they need to excel."

On Roush's watch, the U.S. won 102 medals in Athens, 25 in Turin -- a record for an American team in a Winter Olympics not held on home turf -- then the 110 in Beijing.

Before coming to the USOC, Roush was a top executive at USA Swimming for six years, and before that had been an assistant swim coach at Northwestern and Wisconsin.

Roush's departure leaves the USOC with two high-level positions to fill. Chief marketing officer Rick Burton left the agency in November.

By Amy Shipley  |  January 6, 2009; 9:16 PM ET
Categories:  U.S. Olympic Committee  
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