USOC have named Wendy Guthrie as its senior director of athlete safety ©USOC

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) have announced Wendy Guthrie as their senior director of athlete safety.

The organisation claim it is their latest measure to "help prevent and respond to abuse, and enhance athlete safety".

It follows a series of scandals which have rocked sport in the US.

USOC revealed that Guthrie will lead the implementation of all athlete safety policies and procedures, while she will work closely with National Governing Bodies on their athlete safety efforts.

She will also lead training efforts throughout the US Olympic and Paralympic bodies.

Guthrie spent six years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) prior to her appointment at USOC, working as senior executive of human resources.

It is claimed this led to "cultural change", as well as enhanced processes and policies for a workforce of more than 36,000 FBI employees.

Guthrie also worked in the college athletics sector, overseeing a governance restructure as interim commissioner at the Northwest Conference and developing strategic initiatives as chief of staff at the West Coast Conference.

She has also led the Seattle University athletics department and the Pacific Coast Softball Conference.

"I am thrilled to join the Team USA family," said Guthrie.

"The USOC is focused on keeping athlete safety at the forefront of its mission and this position ensures that focus.

"I am committed to working tirelessly to ensure athlete safety and wellbeing as we collectively seek to eliminate abuse in sport."

USOC have come under fire in recent months following the sex abuse scandal involving former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar.

He has now been sentenced to up to 175 years in prison but both the USOC and USA Gymnastics have faced intense criticism for their handling of the affair and questions about what they knew and when.

USOC are set to appear at a United States House of Representatives hearing in Washington D.C on Wednesday (May 23).

It will focus on whether there are adequate safeguards in place within their organisations to guard against the abuse of young competitors.

USOC have already doubled their funding of the US Center for SafeSport, a national non-profit organisation focused on preventing all forms of abuse in sport.

It is claimed the funding will enable USOC to hire more investigators and staff to improve the speed of resolution and ongoing communication of cases.

Further funding and resources are also set to be given to athletes impacted by sexual abuse, while USOC added that they are reviewing their athlete safety policies and procedures to add further safeguards.

Former world champion Ariana Kukors Smith has launched a lawsuit against USA Swimming ©Getty Images
Former world champion Ariana Kukors Smith has launched a lawsuit against USA Swimming ©Getty Images

"The importance of athlete safety cannot be overstated, and this is another critical step in our fight to prevent future abuse," Susanne Lyons, the USOC acting chief executive, said. 

"Wendy will have a deliberate focus on athlete safety, helping us improve our processes, and ensure the necessary policies and procedures are in place and enforced across the US Olympic and Paralympic community.

"Her demonstrated strategic vision for improving processes and concern for athlete welfare, coupled with a background in the FBI, will allow her to succeed as she steps into this key role on our team."

The appointment comes after news of a lawsuit which has been launched by Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors Smith against USA Swimming, alleging the governing body knew her former coach sexually abused her as a minor and covered it up.

Kukors Smith, a world champion in the 200 metres individual medley in 2009, claimed coach Sean Hutchison groomed her for sexual abuse when she was 13.

She claimed he began sexually molesting her when she was 16, alleging USA Swimming officials knew of the relationship.

Hutchison has denied the allegations and has not been charged with a crime.

Former national team coach Mark Schubert has reportedly been listed as one of the defendants in the lawsuit, according to USA Today.

Kukors Smith has claimed Schubert saw Hutchison inappropriately touching her at international meets when he was in charge of the team, but did not report the suspected abuse.

USA Taekwondo have also been hit by abuse allegations.