On January 22, Senate Finance Committee Chair, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to the head of the United States Olympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland asking what actions the Committee has taken to prevent future instances of sexual abuse of Olympic athletes. The letter is a follow up to last year’s congressional action in response to the revelations over Doctor Larry Nassar’s ongoing sexual abuse of hundreds of athletes.
The Grassley letter asks:
• Does the USOC have a comprehensive list of all banned or suspended personnel and, if so, is such information available on its website?
• Has the USOC instituted protocols to physically inspect all Olympic Training Sites, and National Team Training Centers to ensure a safer environment for athletes under its supervision?
• Is the USOC requiring a background investigation as a prerequisite for employment for all individuals who work at USOC, each National Governing Body (NGB), Olympic Training Centers, or National Team Training Centers?
• If so, please explain the nature of such investigation, including whether a fingerprint check is required and whether volunteers as well as salaried employees are subject to such a background investigation.
• The USOC began the process to decertify USA Gymnastics as a National Governing Body. Do you plan to continue with the decertification process despite USA Gymnastics filing for bankruptcy?
• What is the USOC doing to assist the survivors of Nassar’s abuse?
• …it was revealed that former USOC CEO Scott Blackman and Chief of Sport Performance Alan Ashley were told of abuse allegations approximately 14 months prior to Nassar’s arrest and they failed to act. Mr. Blackman resigned approximately one year ago, meanwhile, Mr. Ashley was terminated by the USOC less than two months ago. In light of this, what structural changes has the USOC made to restore integrity to its leadership structure?
Senator Grassley also asks about the funding for the U.S. Center for SafeSport that was strengthened in last year’s congressional legislation and whether the funding from the Olympic National Governing Body was providing enough financial support to enforce some of the new oversight enacted by the Congress in 2018.
It is unclear what next steps will be and whether he will use his new role as Chair of the Finance Committee to conduct any oversight. Last year Grassley was the chair of the Judiciary Committee when the Olympic bill passed through that Committee.