Executive Board 'Shocked and Saddened' by Nassar Abuse

(ATR) IOC President Bach expresses sadness at the U.S. gymnastics sex abuse scandal, but will not add investigation.




(ATR) The IOC says it will not launch an investigation if abuse by Larry Nassar happened at an Olympic Games, instead deferring to an ongoing independent investigation.

IOC President Thomas Bach read a statement on behalf of the IOC Executive Board today at a press briefing that expressed "moral support for the victims and applauded the courage of the victims who gave testimony". The executive board said it was also "deeply shocked and saddened" by the ongoing abuse scandal in the United States.

The executive board also said it "welcomed" a fund created by the United States Olympic Committee for victim counseling and treatment, and suggested international organizations "make use of the IOC toolkit on safeguarding athletes from harassment and abuse in sport".

Bach says that it is not the IOC's job to launch an investigation of its own.

"The IOC is not nominating the members of the US Olympic Team, this is the priority of the National Olympic Committee," Bach said to journalists in PyeongChang. "This is why we took note of the fact there is an independent investigation going on to address the responsibilities."

In the IOC’s statement the executive board said it "hopes that [the USOC independent investigation] will also give clarity" to responsibilities of different parties. Bach however did not give any clarity if the IOC would take any action if abuse was found within previous Olympic Games.

At least one of the over 260 gymnasts that have come forward to share victim statements in court against Nassar is on record saying abuse happened at an Olympic Games.

London 2012 gold medalist McKayla Maroney said last year on social media that Nassar abused her at the London Games. It is unclear if the abuse happened in an Olympic venue or outside of competition.

Nassar’s credentials for an Olympic Games were handled by the USOC. Each national governing body submits list of personnel to accredit to the USOC. In the case of medical practitioners, the USOC accredits them if medical licenses are transferrable to the country in which the Olympic Games take place, and if they pass a background check. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating Nassar in 2015, but the investigation took over a year according to a report from the New York Times.

While at the Olympic Games Team USA athletes have access to an ombudsman to report incidents of harassment and other abuses. However, it was not until the 2016 Olympics that the IOC had a Safeguarding Officer for all athletes to report abuse or harassment. So while U.S. gymnasts had an independent outlet to report harassment within Team USA, there was no such officer offered by the IOC when Nassar was an Olympic-accredited doctor.

Bach said that the IOC released a "consensus statement" in 2006 to the Olympic family on how to deal with issues of abuse and harassment. That statement was aided by a list of guidelines to all National Olympic Committees and International Federations on "how to address these issues". The IOC Safeguarding Officer will be at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The USOC has selected a law firm to run the independent investigation into the role of both USA Gymnastics and the USOC with regards to the Nassar scandal. A timeline for when the investigation is expected to be completed is not clear.

"As previously announced, the USOC is launching an independent investigation into the decades-long abuse by Larry Nassar to determine what complaints were made, when, to whom, and what was done in response," Susanne Lyons, an independent member of the USOC board of directors, said in a statement. "We are committed to ensuring a process that is independent, transparent, sensitive and accessible to those who wish to provide input to the independent investigator."

Written by Aaron Bauer

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