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Campbell, Hatch Seek Probe of USOC Action

September 4, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Orrin Hatch are asking Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate alleged retaliation against a U.S. Olympic Committee whistleblower.

Campbell, R-Colo., and Hatch, R-Utah, made the request in a letter obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

``We are increasingly concerned about the treatment of USOC employees, including apparent cases of discrimination in hiring and promotion, retribution against whistleblowers and possible violations of civil rights,″ the letter says.

A USOC spokesman on Wednesday denied the committee had done anything wrong.

Colleen Badgley, a USOC employee since 1999, has claimed she was demoted in an attempt to drive her out of her job after she expressed concern about hiring practices and potential discrimination.

Badgley remains in a managerial position and her pay has not been cut, but she has told Colorado newspapers she was put into a different job with fewer responsibilities and moved from an office to a cubicle.

Campbell and other senators are pushing for reforms in the USOC after infighting and a string of embarrassing allegations. In February, he and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, went to USOC headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., for closed-door meetings to hear staff concerns about USOC management.

Badgley has told Campbell that women are not promoted into upper-level USOC jobs as often as men. She said women make up 52 percent of all USOC employees but less than 36 percent of top executives.

Two weeks ago, Campbell wrote acting USOC President Bill Martin demanding that he return Badgley to her previous job and threatened repercussions if he did not.

USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said Campbell had provided no evidence the committee had done anything wrong and that the organization recently promoted or hired four women a the director level or above.

``The USOC categorically denies that it has engaged in any wrongdoing with respect to its employees and its hiring practices,″ Seibel said.

The USOC has said that jobs in the finance division were recently rotated and that Badgley’s move was unrelated to her discussions with Campbell.

The job change was approved before Campbell and Stevens visited USOC offices, and USOC leaders didn’t even know she had spoken with the senators until they received a letter from her attorney, the spokesman said.

The push for USOC reform began earlier this year after infighting between leaders of the committee prompted allegations of ethical misconduct and the resignations of the USOC’s president and chief executive.

Subsequent studies have recommended shrinking USOC’s unwieldy management and concentrating power in a small governing body.

Campbell is blocking a bill by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that would impose sweeping management changes on USOC, demanding assurances that the committee’s headquarters will not be moved from Colorado Springs.

Update hourly