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Shaheen & Ernst Announce Resolution & Growing Bipartisan Support to Establish an Investigation into the U.S Olympic Committee & USA Gymnastics Over Decades of Sexual Abuse

(Washington, DC)— In a joint press conference today in the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) unveiled their resolution and growing bipartisan support to establish a special committee in the Senate to investigate the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and USA Gymnastics regarding how team doctor Larry Nassar was allowed to sexually abuse female gymnasts over decades.

“There’s now significant bipartisan support for establishing a special committee charged with the sole focus of investigating the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics,” said Shaheen. “There are many disturbing questions that remain unanswered as to how Larry Nassar was able to freely abuse young girls for decades. Because the U.S. Olympic Committee operates under a federal charter and its athletes compete under the American flag, the Senate has a responsibility to deliver answers and accountability. Today, Senator Ernst and I are urging Senate leadership to take up this legislation so that this special committee can begin this urgent work.”

“We are introducing this bipartisan resolution to establish a special committee entirely focused on investigating how this abuse was allowed to go on for decades, why leaders of the USOC and USA Gymnastics failed to protect these women, and the path forward to put an end to this type of outrageous abuse,” said Ernst. “I’m so proud of the courageous young athletes who stood up and fought to ensure Larry Nassar can never lay his hands on another athlete. Now Congress has an opportunity to stand up for the brave survivors who came forward, for our athletes, for our children. I am proud to stand with Senator Shaheen and our colleagues to fight to stop this abuse once and for all.”

The text of the resolution can be read here.

The resolution is also cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Steve Daines (R-MT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Tina Smith (D-MN). It also has the endorsement of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

Specifically, the resolution establishes a special committee of the Senate that is tasked with:

  • Investigating the USOC and national sports governing bodies, including USA Gymnastics, and determining the extent to which these organizations were complicit in the criminal or negligent behavior of their employees relative to sexual abuse;
  • Identifying and recommending solutions to the systemic failures at the USOC and national sports governing bodies, including USA Gymnastics, that allowed for pervasive sexual abuse to continue for decades;
  • Identifying actions that must be taken by the USOC and national sports governing bodies, including USA Gymnastics, to ensure increased transparency and protections for children, athletes and their families; and
  • Making findings and recommendations on any additional actions that may be necessary to hold the USOC and USA Gymnastics accountable.

On Friday, Senators Shaheen and Ernst called on USOC CEO Scott Blackmun to step down in light of press reports that Blackmun was aware of sexual abuse allegations against ex-team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar in 2015. This news came a week after Blackmun published a letter to Team USA, pledging an independent investigation to uncover “who knew what and when,” while failing to admit his own supposed direct knowledge of allegations that were brought to his attention.