Scott Blackmun is stepping down as chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee, the organization announced Wednesday.
In eight years leading the USOC, Blackmun drew praise for repairing relations with the International Olympic Committee and for landing another Summer Games on American soil, but also took sustained criticism for perceived reluctance to intervene in a series of sex abuse scandals, most recently the Larry Nassar case that has engulfed USA Gymnastics and prompted three Congressional inquiries.
Wednesday's announcement came just weeks after USOC board members defended Blackmun and resisted calls from two senators for his resignation over the Nassar case. In a news release, the organization cited Blackmun's health; the 60-year-old is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.
"Given Scott's current health situation, we have mutually agreed it is in the best interest of both Scott and the USOC that we identify new leadership so that we can immediately address the urgent initiatives ahead of us," USOC Chairman Larry Probst said. "The important work that Scott started needs to continue and will require especially vigorous attention in light of Larry Nassar's decades-long abuse of athletes affiliated with USA Gymnastics.
USOC board member Susanne Lyons, a former executive with Visa, will take over as interim CEO, the USOC said.
"Serving the USOC and its many stakeholders and working with our board, our professional staff and many others who support the Olympic and Paralympic movements has not only been immensely rewarding, it has been an honor and the highlight of my professional life," Blackmun said in a statement. "I am proud of what we have achieved as a team and am confident that Susanne will help the USOC continue to embody the Olympic spirit and champion Team USA athletes during this transition."
Blackmun has led the USOC since 2010. He previously served as the organization's general counsel in 1999 and 2000 and, briefly, as acting chief executive in 2001. After being passed over for the full-time CEO spot that year, he became chief operating officer for Anschutz Entertainment Group, a sports and music entertainment company.
Author information: Will Hobson is a national sports reporter for The Washington Post.