WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is calling on the U.S. Olympic Committee to outline steps being taken to support athletes affected by the recent sexual assault scandal and prevent future abuse of athletes.
Recent legislation passed by Congress expanded the Olympic Committee’s purpose to include a focus on providing a safe environment that is free from abuse of any amateur athlete. In a letter to the Olympic Committee, Grassley is seeking details on how the Olympic Committee is working to change its culture to support this expanded mission. Grassley’s letter comes one year to the week after Dr. Larry Nassar was first sentenced to prison for sexually abusing scores of young gymnasts, including prominent Olympic athletes.
“In my discussions with multiple gymnasts who reported being victimized by Mr. Nassar, a common theme that emerged was the general lack of oversight performed by the USOC. This hands-off approach allowed Olympic Training Sites such as the Karolyi Ranch, where much of the sexual abuse occurred, to operate with no appropriate oversight to protect athletes from sexual abuse,” Grassley wrote in the letter, noting the Olympic Committee’s priority of athletes’ success over due diligence. “Indeed, the USOC’s focus on winning medals paid off as they have presided over unparalleled success at the previous four Olympic Games, winning a cumulative 100 medals more than the next closest country. Regrettably, during roughly the same time, the USOC also presided over the largest sexual abuse scandal in amateur sports history.”
Full text of Grassley’s letter can be found HERE and below.
Following revelations of sexual abuse of young athletes by training staff, Grassley has led the effort in the Senate to conduct oversight and secure protections for young athletes. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley convened a hearing and collaborated on legislation to promote accountability by amateur sports organizations and prevent future abuses. After hearing from several gymnasts, Grassley led a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray seeking an explanation for how the bureau handled the reported abuse and subsequent investigation.
Full text of Grassley’s letter to the Olympic Committee follows.
VIA MAIL AND ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
Chief Executive Officer
United States Olympic Committee
One Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909
January 22, 2019
Dear Ms. Hirshland:
A recently released investigative report found that the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) fostered a culture that prioritized Olympic medals and revenue over the safety and well-being of athletes under the organization’s supervision, creating the environment that allowed Larry Nassar to sexually abuse over 150 young athletes during the span of a decade. In my discussions with multiple gymnasts who reported being victimized by Mr. Nassar, a common theme that emerged was the general lack of oversight performed by the USOC. This hands-off approach allowed Olympic Training Sites such as the Karolyi Ranch, where much of the sexual abuse occurred, to operate with no appropriate oversight to protect athletes from sexual abuse.
The USOC’s culture of prioritizing Olympic success at the expense of due diligence can be summed up in the words of former USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, who stated in regard to the USOC, “[w]e are in the medal business.” Indeed, the USOC’s focus on winning medals paid off as they have presided over unparalleled success at the previous four Olympic Games, winning a cumulative 100 medals more than the next closest country. Regrettably, during roughly the same time, the USOC also presided over the largest sexual abuse scandal in amateur sports history.
Realizing the need to change the culture, Congress expanded the purpose area of the USOC to require “a safe environment in sports that is free from abuse, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, of any amateur athlete.” The recent enactment of this statutory language confirms that the USOC has a responsibility to prevent the abuse of athletes under their care or in their facilities. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the USOC is required to comply with its stated purpose in order to maintain its tax-exempt status. This Committee which concerns itself with matters of taxation, among many other things, has an interest in ensuring proper compliance.
To best determine what structural and cultural changes the USOC has made to comply with its new purpose area, please respond to the following questions by February 4, 2019:
Should you have any questions, please contact Dario Camacho or Evelyn Fortier of my Committee staff at 202-224-4515. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Charles E. Grassley
Senate Committee on Finance
cc: Ron Wyden
Senate Committee on Finance
 Joan McPhee and James P. Dowden, Report of the Independent Investigation, The Constellation of Factors Underlying Larry Nassar’s Abuse of Athletes, Ropes & Gray LLP (Dec. 10, 2018), available at https://www.ropesgray.com/-/media/Files/USOC/ropes-gray-full-report.pdf.
 Id. at 136.
 Id. at 144.
 Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, Pub. L. No. 115-126, 132 Stat. 318 (2018).
 United States Olympic Committee, Colorado Springs, Colorado, EIN: 13-1548339, available at https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/131548339_201712_990_2018103115855238.pdf.
 Sarah Fitzpatrick and Corky Siemaszko, Top USOC official fired after independent report details Nassar cover-up, ABC News (Dec. 10, 2018), available at https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/top-usoc-official-fired-after-independent-report-details-nassar-cover-n946251.
 See McPhee and Dowden, supra note 1, at 2 (stating that “[USOC] ignored red flags, failed to recognize textbook grooming behaviors, or in some egregious instances, dismissed clear calls for help from girls and young women who were being abused by Nassar.”).
 Ben Fischer, “NGBs may be tapped for funding as SafeSport’s case load increases,” Sports Business Journal (July 16, 2018), available at https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2018/07/16/Olympics/USOC-NGB.aspx.