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USA Wrestling tightens now requires background checks for journalists

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The United States’ governing body for wrestling plans to implement a series of new policies for journalists.

In the wake of a series of olympic sex abuse scandals, including USA Gymnastics, USA Taekwondo, and USA Swimming, the United States’ governing body for wrestling plans to enact a series of new policies aimed at scrutinizing the media.

According to the Washington Post, USA Wrestling plans to implement a series of new policies for the journalist accreditation process, including a background check and an online training program from the U.S. Center for Safe Sport. The program is mandatory for coaches, referees, and medical staff, yet has never been a prerequisite for journalists covering USA Wrestling events until now.

“When you start looking at doing everything you can to create a safe environment for kids that are participating in your sport, you look to see who has access,” Rich Bender, USA Wrestling’s executive director, said in an interview. “Obviously, I think a lot of focus has been placed on coaches and adult supervisors who are around kids in our sport. Members of the media fit into that criteria.”

While Bender believes the newfound scrutiny of journalists will be beneficial for athlete safety, no media members have been accused of sexual assault, harassment, or abusive behaviour in the past. The policies are questionable at best, as it was journalists who uncovered the crimes of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who pleaded guilty to charges of child pornography, sexual assault of minors, and sexual assault. The convicted child molester was accused of abusing over 300 girls and young women, including well known Olympic gymnasts, dating as far back as 1992.

Despite the courageous reporting that helped shine a light on Nasser’s criminal activity, which reportedly occurred due to a lack of oversight by the USA gymnastics governing body, USA Wrestling is adamant that their bizarre change in policy is a step in the right direction. However, it will likely decrease overall coverage of USA Wrestling events. Jeff Rosen, the president of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) revealed that the organization will advise journalists to not cover events will the new policies in place.

The new credentialing policies go into effect immediately.

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