U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. entitled, “Olympic Abuse: The Role of National Governing Bodies in Protecting Our Athletes.”
“As part of the subcommittee’s ongoing investigation, we have invited athletes representing multiple sports to testify at our first hearing,” said Moran. “We appreciate the willingness of these athletes – who share in our determination to root out abuse in youth sport governing bodies – to share their stories and aid in our investigation to protect all USOC athletes, at all levels, in all sports.”
“This week’s hearing is a critical step forward in our investigation into the serious systemic abuses across generations of young athletes,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the subcommittee’s ranking member. “Former gymnasts and their families sat down with me and Chairman Moran to share their deeply personal stories, further underscoring the urgency of rooting out appalling abuse in amateur sports. I continue to be in awe of the incredible bravery of the athletes who have spoken out to help advance this investigation – and to ensure no child athlete has to suffer again.”
This hearing will provide a forum for survivors of abuse to discuss specific concerns and challenges in preventing abuse within their respective sports. Athletes will also have an opportunity to provide lawmakers with advice on overseeing the implementation of the recently enacted “Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017” (P.L. 115-126), authorizing an independent entity to investigate and prevent abuse of athletes.
- Ms. Jordyn Wieber, Gymnast and Olympic Gold Medalist (London, 2012)
- Ms. Jamie Dantzscher, Gymnast and Olympic Bronze Medalist (Sydney, 2000)
- Ms. Bridie Farrell, Speedskater and 2014 Olympic hopeful
- Mr. Craig Maurizi, Figureskater
Wednesday, April 18, 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.
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Mr. Craig MauriziFigureskater
Chairman Jerry Moran
(As prepared for delivery)
Good afternoon, I call this hearing to order. I will keep my opening remarks brief because it is most important today that we hear and learn not from those of us behind the dais but from our witnesses whose powerful stories will resonate with each of us.
To our witnesses, thank you for being here today to share your experiences with this Subcommittee. I speak for all of us when I say thank you for representing the United States so well in and outside of your sport. We appreciate your willingness to spend your afternoon with us discussing ways to better protect our athletes.
I believe we all wish to see Americans successful in international competition and understand the value of encouraging young athletes to participate in our nation’s thriving sports culture. This Subcommittee, which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Olympic Committee and amateur sports, is fully committed to ensuring the health and safety of all American athletes, from youth sports to the Olympics.
In January, Senator Blumenthal and I launched a bipartisan Subcommittee investigation to examine cultural and systemic problems regarding abuse after serious and disturbing revelations that former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused hundreds of athletes over two decades, even well after survivors alerted authorities about his actions.
Together we have sought extensive documentation from the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University regarding this specific case. To further expand the investigation, we have requested written documentation from all National Governing Bodies on their policies and procedures in reporting, handling and combating abuse and their use of athlete-organization nondisclosure agreements.
Today’s hearing represents the next step in our investigation. The Ranking Member and I met with several athletes earlier this year – including two of you here today – and we felt it was absolutely necessary to have your experiences shared with this Subcommittee.
I am also eager to hear our witnesses’ advice and recommendations on what Congress ought to be doing to make certain athletes are protected from predators and can freely participate in their sports without fear of abuse.
I appreciate the incredible bravery of our witnesses and their willingness to be here to discuss these sensitive topics. You are all enormously talented and successful athletes who made your country proud but were taken for granted by the organizations you represented. You were let down by individuals you trusted but who chose to ignore you, to look the other way, or to deliberately cover up the abuses you suffered because their priority, simply put, was not your safety or well-being.
Thank you for the time you have taken to prepare and present your heartfelt testimony.
Finally, while she is not here to testify today, another abuse survivor, McKayla Maroney, has submitted written testimony to the Subcommittee. Ms. Maroney, as many of you know, is another Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast abused by Larry Nassar, and whom was alleged to have been silenced from speaking out by USA Gymnastics through an NDA. I ask unanimous consent that her testimony be entered into the record.
With that I will turn to the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Senator Blumenthal, for his opening statement.
Ms. McKayla Maroney
Ms. Jordyn WieberGymnast and Olympic Gold Medalist (London, 2012)
Ms. Jamie DantzscherGymnast and Olympic Bronze Medalist (Sydney, 2000)
Ms. Bridie FarrellSpeedskater and 2014 Olympic hopeful
Mr. Craig MauriziFigureskater