U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing titled “Protecting U.S. Amateur Athletes: Examining Abuse Prevention Efforts Across the Olympic Movement,” at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. This hearing will examine the processes used by the United States Olympic Committee and the National Governing Bodies for individual Olympic sports to protect our Olympic athletes from abuse.
- Mr. Phil Andrews, Chief Executive Officer, USA Weightlifting
- Ms. Anne Cammett, President, U.S. Figure Skating
- Mr. Tim Hinchey III, President and CEO, USA Swimming
- Mr. Darrin Steele, Chief Executive Officer, USA Bobsled and Skeleton
- Mr. Steve McNally, Executive Director, USA Taekwondo, participating via written testimony and written responses to questions.
*Witness list subject to change.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security
This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
Chairman Jerry Moran
Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s subcommittee hearing. I call the hearing to order.
This Subcommittee – which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Olympic Committee and amateur sports at large – is fully committed to ensuring the health and safety of all American athletes, and today marks the fourth hearing in our ongoing investigation.
In January, this Subcommittee launched an investigation to examine cultural and systemic issues regarding abuse in the Olympic movement brought on by the horrific revelations that former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused and assaulted hundreds of athletes over the span of two decades –well after numerous survivors alerted authorities about his actions. We are proud of the courage and bravery demonstrated by the many current and former athletes we’ve listened to and spoken with over the past 10 months as they’ve shared their stories with the committee.
The Subcommittee’s investigation has expanded to include all National Governing Bodies, which govern each of the Olympic sports, and the role of the U.S. Olympic Committee in providing guidance and oversight to better protect athletes.
Our conversations with leaders of these organizations have focused on reforms that were part of the recently enacted Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act and how each of their organizations have implemented these important protections. I’m grateful for the leadership demonstrated by Commerce Committee Chairman Thune and Senator Feinstein during our work to pass this bipartisan law. Through this, we have provided valuable tools to help protect amateur athletes, and this committee will continue our bipartisan efforts to bolster this work.
I speak for this entire Subcommittee when I say that the brave actions and testimonies of our young athletes have inspired and motivated us. This committee is committed to making positive change for these – and all – athletes, and the survivors we have been working with over the past several months are truly the drivers of this much-needed cultural change.
I apologize I was unable to attend the event earlier today with survivors from a number of sports sharing their stories and ideas for improvement. There are a number survivors with us at the hearing today. I join Sen. Blumenthal in asking that you please stand and be recognized.
Since initiating our bipartisan investigation, this Subcommittee has held three hearings in which the members of the committee and the American public heard from distinct witness panels on their experiences related to the procedural missteps and collective inaction experienced within these misled Olympic organizations.
Additionally, we have heard from current executive leadership within the Olympic movement on steps they are taking to address concerns that were identified by the Subcommittee and highlighted by numerous survivors.
In the first hearing, we heard testimony from four survivors of abuse across different Olympic sports who shared personal experiences about the systemic practices that have safeguarded perpetrators, inhibited victims from coming forward and prevented victims’ reports from coming to light.
In the second hearing, we brought in leaders from USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University to provide testimony and answer questions as to how the rampant abuse by Nassar was able to perpetuate for as long as it did. Scott Blackmun, the former president of the U.S. Olympic Committee; and Martha Karolyi, the former national team coordinator for USA Gymnastics, were invited to attend but declined for medical reasons.
Critical topics were covered in that hearing, including: USA Gymnastics’ mishandling of critical medical records, failed communication to and within Michigan State University related to sexual abuse reports against their employee, and most significant, the complete lack of cooperation demonstrated by Mr. Penny in his refusal to answer questions.
In the third hearing, we heard from the current leaders of the same troubled organizations regarding which aspects of their systems and culture had changed, and how they planned to implement serious reforms moving forward.
Specifically, we were joined by Mr. John Engler, Interim President of Michigan State University; Ms. Susanne Lyons, Acting CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee; Ms. Kerry Perry, recently former President and CEO of USA Gymnastics; and Mr. Han Xiao, Chair of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Athlete Advisory Council. I appreciated their updates in the hearing and continue to monitor the work that their organizations are doing to empower amateur athletes and prevent abuse.
It is my belief that hearing from a variety of National Governing Bodies of different sizes, resources and challenges is necessary to make policy recommendations moving forward.
As such, joining us today is Mr. Phil Andrews, CEO of USA Weightlifting; Ms. Anne Cammett, President of USA Figure Skating; Mr. Tim Hinchey III, President and CEO of USA Swimming; and Mr. Darrin Steele, CEO of USA Bobsled and Skeleton.
We also have received written testimonies and expect responses to questions from Mr. Steve McNally, Executive Director of USA Taekwondo.
I will conclude my opening remarks by reiterating the bipartisan approach that this subcommittee has taken in its comprehensive investigation. With the consultation of law enforcement, survivors and advocates, we have worked closely together to identify meaningful reform in the best interests of athletes and their families.
With that, I will turn to the Ranking Member, Senator Blumenthal, for his opening statement.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will keep my remarks brief so that we can get to our witnesses.
Today is the fourth hearing that we have conducted on this matter, and I will repeat what I said at previous hearings: We failed the athletes who were abused. The system failed them. Responsible adults turned a blind eye and allowed predators to commit unspeakable crimes. And it wasn’t just gymnastics. As we will discuss today, athletes in sports as diverse as swimming and taekwondo also suffered terrible abuse at the hands of trusted coaches.
Last January, Congress passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, which will go a long way towards preventing similar abuse from happening again. Chairman Thune and I authored the provisions in the new law that formally authorizes the creation of the U.S. Center for Safe Sport. The center is tasked with investigating allegations of abuse and developing policies and safeguards that youth sports organizations must adopt to protect youth athletes. For instance, sports organizations must enforce policies that minimize one-on-one interactions between adults and children.
The new law also makes clear that a core mission of the United States Olympics Committee is to prioritize the safety and welfare of youth athletes in Olympic sports. Together, these provisions will make a huge, positive difference in the lives of young athletes across this nation. I want to thank Chairman Thune, as well as Senator Feinstein, for working with me on this important law.
Having said that, we know more can be done. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and working with all of the members of this committee on continuing efforts to protect youth athletes from unnecessary harm.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Phil AndrewsChief Executive OfficerUSA Weightlifting
Ms. Anne CammettPresidentU.S. Figure Skating
Mr. Tim Hinchey IIIPresident and CEOUSA Swimming
Mr. Darrin SteeleUSA Bobsled and Skeleton
Mr. Steve McNallyExecutive Director,USA Taekwondo