Lloyd Ward: Victim or Villain?

In an exclusive interview, the former U.S. Olympic Committee CEO tells his side about what led to his ouster. Was it a nasty campaign to discredit him, or did his unpopular business practices and management style derail his career?

and resentment. “In my estimation, the biggest difference between [Blake] and Lloyd was that Blake did not take the time to try to understand the organization, listen to the people, or take their concerns into consideration,” says Jim Joy, a USOC board member who represents the community-based Armed Forces Disabled Sports Organization.

Months after joining the organization, Ward discovered that Baldwin had won her position by advocating for Blake’s removal. “She was elected, and she got [Blake] out,” says a USOC insider. “Scott Blackmun was appointed interim CEO because he was an internal guy who understood the rules of the game.” According to the insider, these rules emphasized political favoritism rather than the best interest of the entire organization.

BEGINNING OF THE END
With his master motivator mode on full throttle, Ward pulled his new staff together in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, and presented arguably the most successful Winter Olympics in U.S. history. “He was well-organized, and he had a personality that was extremely attractive in getting people to buy into his plan,” says Gwendolyn Calvert Baker, a member of the internal task force to reform the USOC. “His most positive aspect was that he was a visionary,” she says. “He believed in where he wanted to take the USOC. He wanted to strengthen it and to help it grow, attract more sponsors while keeping those that we had, and produce as many medal-winning athletes as possible.”

The 2002 Olympic Winter Games netted more than $876 million from sponsors, sold approximately 1.53 million tickets, and produced 34 medals for the United States-the most ever at an Olympic Winter Games. While at the Games, Ward carefully conducted over 60 meetings with sponsors and suppli
ers to make sure that they were being serviced properly and to talk about future commitments. “Salt Lake City was a success from a security point of view, from a performance point of view, and from a fan’s point of view. The sponsors felt great about it too,” he says.

With the challenge of the Winter Games successfully navigated, Ward felt that the organization was firing on all cylinders. Thanks to work by Baldwin, the USOC’s relationship with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was improving. Ward and Baldwin worked well together. She took the lead on international matters while he handled domestic issues. Unfortunately, things began to fall apart shortly after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

“One of the problems that Lloyd encountered was that two of the individuals he hired had never been associated with the Olympics before,” says Ron Creel, a member of the USOC board of directors.

Though Ward would later bring in people with Olympic experience, the damage had been done. “You have to understand that there’s a lot of jealousy,” says Creel. “When someone from the outside comes in and has never been in the Olympic movement before and [the staff] is scratching their head over some of the decisions being made … they’re saying he’d probably not be making those decisions if he’d been here for

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