U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland wrote in a letter to the U.S. Olympic community Friday evening that she has “sincere concern about the gross misrepresentations” that Bill Moreau, the USOPC’s former vice president of sports medicine, alleged in a whistleblower lawsuit filed Wednesday.
“Despite initially stating that, while being incredibly disappointed, we would wait for the opportunity to address his claims in court, I have sincere concern about the gross misrepresentations that he is sharing through the media and thus feel compelled to write you today,” Hirshland said in the letter, which was obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
“Let me start by being very clear that there is absolutely no merit to the suggestion of retaliation as a cause for the separation of Bill Moreau,” Hirshland wrote. “It is important for you to know that we feel strongly that in the cases Bill Moreau uses as examples against us, we acted appropriately, expeditiously and in the best interest of the athletes.
“Unfortunately, he is mischaracterizing not only our actions – but his own. We welcome the forthcoming process of providing perspective around those events,” she wrote.
In addition to the letter, Hirshland added a timeline that details the circumstances around the decision to replace Moreau, a chiropractor, with someone who would be more in keeping with what she described as the USOPC’s “increased focus on broad athlete health and wellness.”
“Based on our learnings and our increased focus on broad athlete health and wellness, the decision was made to update the job description of the lead practitioner of medical services to a Chief Medical Officer role and – in keeping with best industry practice and out of respect for the athlete population – mandate that the CMO have a broader medical background and significant experience as a practicing physician as well as administrative capability,” she said in the timeline. “In doing the work described above, it became clear that Moreau’s experience and his background as a Chiropractor did not position him to provide the leadership needed.”
Said Hirshland: “As it relates to Bill Moreau’s employment, I think it’s important that accuracy prevail.
“I want it to be clear that I remain as committed to the safety of Team USA athletes as I was when I took on this role – and I know you are too,” she wrote. “We have taken bold steps with new leadership and renewed purpose. I take great pride in leading an organization that is steadfast in its commitment, and in the knowledge that we will always take necessary steps to improve our service to athletes.”