Advertisement

Senate inquiry: USOC failed to protect athletes from sex abuse

By
Clyde Hughes
Victims of sexual abuser and former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar listen at a Senate hearing as USA Gynmastics President Kerry Perry, left, testifies on Capitol Hill on July 24, 2018. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Victims of sexual abuser and former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar listen at a Senate hearing as USA Gynmastics President Kerry Perry, left, testifies on Capitol Hill on July 24, 2018. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

July 30 (UPI) -- A new congressional report Tuesday laid blame on the United States Olympic Committee and Federal Bureau of Investigation for years of sexual assaults by former physician Larry Nassar against young gymnasts.

The investigative report by the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection said the USOC and FBI had "fundamentally failed" to protect U.S. gymnasts.

Advertisement

The 18-month investigation was started by the case involving disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced last year to 175 years in prison on charges of criminal misconduct and possession of child pornography connected with his treatment of young female athletes.

Several gold medal-winning athletes were among the 260 women who told investigators Nassar, employed at Michigan State University, assaulted them.

RELATED South Korean human rights group launches probe into sex assault in sports

The report Tuesday found institutions repeatedly failed to "act aggressively to report wrongdoing to proper law enforcement agencies."

"Repeatedly, men and women entrusted with positions of power prioritized their own reputation or the reputation of [National Governing Bodies] over the health and safety of the athletes," it added. "Repeatedly, USOC, [USA Gymnastics] and other NGBs took actions to conceal their negligence and failed to enact serious reforms, even after they were faced with the courageous accounts of survivors."

Advertisement

The report will lead to proposed legislation by two senators for new protections for amateur athletes.

RELATED NBA executive Li Li Leung named new president and CEO of USA Gymnastics

Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are the leading lawmakers behind the proposed safeguards, to be introduced Tuesday.

"During the course of our work, we uncovered damning evidence showing misconduct by leaders at the Olympics committee, USA Gymnastics and MSU," Moran and Blumenthal wrote Tuesday in USA Today op-ed.

"Our investigation concluded that coaches and powerful individuals within the Olympic movement were able to assault athletes of all ages because of a lack of oversight and transparency."

The proposed protections, outlined in the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act, would give athletes more power and protection from assailants and include new reporting requirements for adults with knowledge of child abuse. It would also mandate higher representation of amateur athletes on the boards of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The bill calls for greater transparency and accountability throughout amateur sports organizations, and authority for Congress to fire the board of directors. It also mandates the organization maintain a public list of all barred coaches and individuals.

The bill also requires the Olympic committee give $20 million a year to fund the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an organization created in 2017 that investigates reports of abuse in Olympic sports.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines