On Wednesday, June 23, USA Shooting released a statement regarding the suspended Olympic pistol shooter, Keith Sanderson. In short, Sanderson has been replaced on the team headed to Japan next month with Tokyo Alternate Jack Leverett, III, who will compete in the men's 25-meter rapid fire pistol event, and will compete alongside his brother Henry Leverett.
The USA Shooting press release also said in part, “Sanderson has been excluded from the U.S. Delegation for Tokyo due to a suspension handed down by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.”
From its website: “The U.S. Center for SafeSport is an independent 501c(3) non-profit organization focused on ending all forms of abuse in sport. We endeavor to make athlete well-being the centerpiece of the nation’s sports culture through abuse prevention, education, and accountability.”
Since the launch of the U.S. Center for SafeSport in 2017, 20 cases have been filed in connection with USA Shooting, and this is the first suspension of any kind for one of its athletes, as well as staff, volunteers and coaches.
Here is what USA Shooting Chief Executive Officer Matt Suggs said about the matter.
“USA Shooting remains committed to the safety of our athletes, staff, and volunteers and SafeSport is an important part of that commitment …This is a somber day for our organization, but we must remain focused on our final preparations for Tokyo. We have an excellent young team that has been bringing home the hardware from the recent World Cups in India and Italy.”
This year’s U.S. Olympic Shooting team is led by two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock, and also includes top rifle shooters Mary Tucker and Lucas Kozeniesky. Additionally, Nick Mowrer of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program will be the only shooter in Tokyo competing in both rifle and pistol events. Plus, two new young shotgun stars, Austen Smith and Maddy Bernau recently won respective gold and silver medals at the 2021 ISSF World Cup for Shotgun in Lonato, Italy, and are certainly looking to keep up their momentum.
U.S. athletes have collectively won 115 medals in Olympic and Paralympic shooting competitions since the modern Olympics began in 1896. This medal count is nearly twice that of the next nation.
The Tokyo Olympic Games will begin Friday, July 23, with the opening ceremonies. Shooting events will be conducted from Saturday, July 24 to Monday, August 2. Subscribe to the free Shooting Sports USA Insider newsletter for the latest updates.
Have you seen our retrospective on the modern Olympic Games? Check out the series here.