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?

he was derailed by cutthroat politics or was an executive with a lack of integrity and management skills that was supported by a corrupt organization. Opinion among USOC board members is mixed. “There was a very small group, and I want to emphasize a very small group, within the Olympic family that didn’t want Lloyd as president and CEO,” says USOC board member Ron Creel. “I don’t know their names, but in my professional opinion, I think they orchestrated a campaign against Lloyd and got the press involved. And once they got the press involved, then somebody from Colorado got Senator [Ben Nighthorse] Campbell, [John] McCain and [Ted] Stevens involved, and that’s where we are today.”

These days, Lloyd Ward is content to think about his future. He has co-founded BodyBlocks Nutrition Systems, a manufacturer and marketer of energy and meal replacement bars and drinks that provide nutrition for people with active lifestyles. And while he hasn’t ruled out heading up another Fortune 1000 company, Ward says the experience at the USOC has taught him a bit more about himself. “As African Americans, we always talk about the politics of organizations,” he says. “But there’s a whole different level of politics when you are running for office. It became clear to me that this was no longer my domain of excellence.”

Though perhaps no consolation, Ward did manage to bring about positive change at the USOC. He has left some systems in place that will help the next regime of leadership run the organization better. He has also helped bring more than $380 million in sponsor revenue to the Games.

And the reform process moved ahead in October 2003 when the USOC board of directors voted to reduce its size from 123 to 11 members, disband its executive committee, and enact new governance policies. The organization acted without Congre
ss, which may still weigh in on the changes. USOC acting President Martin says the new procedures and new leadership will be transitioned into place over the course of this year.

“I take great solace and pride in the fact that my tenure at the USOC has led to fundamental reform of the organization that will position it to serve athletes and the American public for the next several decades in ways that are consistent with what the Olympics stand for and represent,” Ward says. “It will be less political and more focused on athletes and competition, performance and international community, good will, prosperity, and peace and harmony in the world. That’s what it’s all about.”

Lloyd Ward’s Career as CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee
11.2001
Lloyd Ward is hired as chief executive officer of the USOC.

02.2002
The 2002 Winter Olympics begin. The United States wins 34 medals, its highest total for a Winter Olympics. The Games are considered a commercial success.

04.2002
Ward receives a proposal from Energy Management Technologies (EMT) to supply microturbines for the 2003 Pan Am Games. He asks former International Relations Director Hernando Mandronero to call his brother, who is listed as a company president,

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