By Paul Osborne

The United States Olympic Committee announced the hiring of Kathleen Wallace as the organizations new athlete ombudsman ©Baldwin Scholars Duke UniversityThe United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has today named licensed attorney and mediator Kathleen "Kacie" Wallace as its new athlete ombudsman.

The athlete ombudsman is a position that ensures athletes have access to independent advice about the applicable provisions of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, and other laws, rules and regulations relevant to them.

The Act charters the USOC which in turn can charter a national governing body for each sport.

The Act requires that active athletes must hold 20 per cent of the voting power of any board or committee in a national governing body and also provides athletes with due process and appeal rights concerning eligibility disputes.

The ombudsman is also charged with mediating disputes involving athletes' opportunities to participate in the Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, World Championships and other events..

The role was established in 1998 and has since been held by John Ruger.

"I'd like to thank John for his commitment to fundamental fairness and athlete rights," said USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun.

"The athlete ombudsman is incredibly important to the success of Team USA and I'm confident that Kacie will provide the kind of independent and professional advice that America's elite athletes have come to expect.

"Kacie is smart, honest and straightforward, and I'm grateful that she's agreed to take on this role."

"I'd like to thank the Athletes' Advisory Council for leading this search process and I look forward to our continued collaboration going forward as we seek to address the needs of Olympic and Paralympic athletes."

Wallace is no stranger to the Olympic and Paralympic Movements, having served as ombudsman at the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

In addition, she served as a crisis intervention specialist at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity and truly excited to continue to serve US athletes as they work toward their goals," said Wallace.

"The amazing men and women who fight day and night to become Olympians and Paralympians deserve someone who will work just as hard on their behalf.

"I intend to do just that."

Away from her life in sport, Wallace is a licensed attorney in North Carolina and a certified mediator.

She is a dispute resolution specialist with more than 21 years of experience as a crisis intervention counsellor, arbitrator, negotiator and mediator.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]