If they are true, they should have disqualified him from ever competing in the first place.
The entire episode is a clear example of why the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) policy against sexual misconduct is inadequate.
Athletes who commit offenses such as those of which White has been accused should never be allowed to participate in the Olympics. But instead of banning sexual offenders, the IOC abrogates its responsibility by putting national Olympic committees and sports federations in charge of policing abuse.
But there are two problems with this approach.
There is now a hotline allowing people to report abuse during the sporting event, a reporting procedure for incidents at the games, and a dedicated IOC Safeguarding Officer. That’s all great. But it isn’t enough.
The IOC shouldn’t merely be concerned with ensuring that athletes don’t abuse women at the Olympics. They shouldn’t allow athletes who commit abuse anywhere, at any time, to compete.
Putting sexual abusers or harassers on pedestals, however, contributes to a more terrible world. Turning such people into idols suggests that sexual misconduct isn’t such a big deal and that it’s possible to get away with it. That’s an unconscionable message to send to people around the world.
Ultimately, as the organization in charge of the Olympic Games, the IOC should take responsibility for deciding who is in violation of sexual misconduct policies, rather than directing countries and sports leagues to solve the problem. If the IOC sets standards of conduct, then find reasonable evidence that they’ve been violated, they should be the ones to take action to remove that athlete’s privilege of competing.
The IOC should therefore develop a policy disallowing the participation of athletes who are found to have ever committed sexual harassment or abuse.
Any athlete participating in the Olympics should have to sign a disclosure form indicating whether they have ever formally been charged with or accused of abuse, including in a lawsuit or through criminal charges. If the answer is yes, the IOC should investigate immediately to determine the validity of the charges.
If an investigation reveals the accusations are valid, the athlete should be automatically disqualified. Questions such as those about the allegations against White shouldn’t be considered or addressed only after an athlete has won a medal.
That’s underplaying the IOC’s role, too. By shirking responsibility for ensuring that sexual abusers aren’t allowed to participate in the games, the IOC is creating an arena in which villains can still be held up to the world as heroes.