Richard McLaren releases results of Mali basketball abuse investigation

September 28, 2021


A three-month investigation led by adjunct research professor Richard McLaren into allegations of the sexual harassment and abuse of Mali’s female basketball players has concluded – and the results are damning.

The investigation’s findings cite an “institutionalized acceptance of the abuse of players” in the West African country’s national women’s basketball program, and that “neither action nor effort” had been made to correct this. It also found the Mali Basketball Federation’s (FMBB) safeguarding and child protection policies to be “wholly insufficient” and not in compliance with International Basketball Federation (FIBA) regulations.

The 149-page report notes, too, that the investigation was hampered by “various activities that constitute witness and victim intimidation” on behalf of the program’s coaches.

The allegations surrounding maltreatment of the players – most of which are still teenagers – date back decades.

McLaren was tasked by FIBA – for which he serves as the integrity officer – with leading the investigation after Human Rights Watch notified FIBA of the allegations in June 2021.

FIBA president Hamane Niang agreed to temporarily step aside while the investigation took place. He has since returned to his duties, saying he would like to “express [his] personal and unconditional support to the victims,” after McLaren’s report found no evidence Niang was aware of the abuse.

FIBA said that in addition to the “numerous steps” it’s already taken since the investigation began, it plans to launch a global player safeguarding initiative for approval by the central board later this year.

McLaren is currently embarking on another high-profile sports investigation in connection with alleged irregularities in refereeing and officiating boxing matches at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

He has previously led probes into the International Weightlifting Federation, Major League Baseball, the USA track and field team, and Russian athletes who participated in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.