The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Friday it planned to hold a hearing on the sexual abuse scandal rocking the U.S. national gymnastics team, as well as reports of abuse in the national swimming and Taekwondo programs.
Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced this week to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 160 women — sometimes under the guise of medical care — over the course of decades.
More than 100 women testified against him in a Michigan court.
The case has led to the resignation of three members of the USA Gymnastics board of directors. U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun demanded Thursday that the rest of the board’s 15 members turn in their resignations next week.
Michigan State University president Lou Anna Simon resigned and athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement this week after pressure from students and alumni. Nassar worked at the university’s medical school.
“The abhorrent abuses associated with Dr. Nassar’s case and the allegations by U.S. Taekwondo athletics and U.S. swimmers are disgusting and outrageous, and raise serious concerns about protecting athletes from abuse and mistreatment in organized sports,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore), the House committee chairman said in a statement Friday. “These organizations must have mechanisms in place to ensure complete oversight and prevent such abuses from occurring. As we move forward in gathering the facts, this committee intends to hold a hearing in order to investigate these critical issues further.”
The committee sent letters of inquiry to USA Gymnastics, the USOC, USA Swimming, USA Taekwondo and Michigan State with instructions to prepare to brief Congress on sexual abuse scandals.
“The abhorrent abuses associated with this case are outrageous, and raise serious concerns about your organization’s ability to oversee your sport and protect your athletes from abuse and mistreatment,” the House committee wrote in the letters, signed by three Republicans and three Democrats.
The national Taekwondo program allowed the brothers Steven Lopez, a former Olympic champion, and Jean Lopez, his coach, to travel to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games while under investigation for sexual misconduct.
The Chicago Tribune reported in November 2017 that 290 coaches and officials tied to USA Swimming had been accused of sexual misconduct since 1982.
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