U.S. Olympic leaders expect to face Congress again next month over Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal
Emerging from a day of private meetings on Capitol Hill, U.S. Olympic Committee leaders said Friday they were told to expect another congressional hearing on the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked amateur athletics.
It was just a few weeks ago the USOC and other national sports organizations faced angry questions from a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“They continue to make it clear that this is an area of extreme importance to them,” acting USOC Chief Executive Susanne Lyons said of lawmakers.
This concern stems from the Larry Nassar scandal, which saw hundreds of girls and young women come forward with allegations that Nassar, a former sports doctor for Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and U.S. Olympic teams, molested them under the guise of providing medical treatment.
Nassar is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse and child pornography charges.
In recent months, USA Gymnastics has overhauled its leadership, with Chief Executive Kerry Perry introducing a new board of directors this week. Lyons expressed confidence in the development, but acknowledged: “There’s quite a long way to go.”
The USOC also has undergone changes with the departure of former Chief Executive Scott Blackmun. As the search for his replacement continues, Chairman Larry Probst said he expects candidates to be identified soon.
In the meantime, Lyons and Probst met with numerous senators and their staffs Thursday to provide an update on the amateur sports scene.
“I would say the tone of the meetings was forward-looking and productive,” Lyons said.
As the USOC seeks to strengthen its oversight of the national governing bodies, or NGBs, that handle each specific sport, it remains unclear whether legislators will need to adjust the Amateur Sports Act.
Insisting the USOC is taking this opportunity to “really look in the mirror,” Lyons said she has demanded that all NGBs contribute to a public database listing any individuals who have been suspended or banned because of sexual abuse incidents.
“This is a very important time for the USOC,” she said. “We are in a period of transition and, I think, evolution.”
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