COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Today global law firm Ropes & Gray released an independent investigation report commissioned by the United States Olympic Committee board of directors into sexual abuse in Olympic gymnastics. Ropes & Gray’s independent report provides important contributions to understanding the failures of the U.S. Olympic community and will enable the USOC to take additional action to protect athletes.
In February 2018, a special committee of the USOC board of directors hired Ropes & Gray to conduct an independent and thorough investigation to determine when individuals affiliated with USA Gymnastics and the USOC first became aware of any evidence of Larry Nassar’s abuse of athletes; what that evidence was; and what they did with it. The investigators also examined contributing factors and circumstances.
“The U.S. Olympic community failed the victims, survivors and their families, and we apologize again to everyone who has been harmed,” said Susanne Lyons, USOC independent board member and incoming board chair. “The USOC board commissioned this independent investigation because we knew we had an obligation to find out how this happened and to take important steps to prevent and detect abuse. We now have a much more comprehensive view of individual and institutional failures. Everyone in the Olympic and Paralympic community, including the USOC, must learn from the report and take appropriate actions to strengthen protections for athletes. We recognize that we must do more, and we will do more.”
“This year, the USOC has already taken important actions to strengthen athlete safeguards and help the USOC be more effective in our mission to empower and support athletes,” said USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland, who joined the USOC in August 2018. “Sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination have no place in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic community, and it’s on all of us – member organizations, institutions and individuals alike – to foster a healthy culture for competitive excellence. We will use the findings from Ropes & Gray’s independent investigation to do everything possible to prevent something similar from happening in the future.”
The USOC has already implemented a number of reforms and initiatives, including instituting new leadership and stronger accountability measures; starting the process to revoke USAG’s recognition and determine the best path forward for gymnastics in the United States; launching, supporting and strengthening the U.S. Center for SafeSport and other athlete safety programs, policies and procedures; empowering athletes’ voices in shaping key USOC and NGB policies; and evaluating and reforming how the USOC engages with NGBs and athletes. The USOC will share information about additional actions it is taking as a result of these findings.
Ropes & Gray conducted an extensive and completely independent 10-month investigation. The firm had full discretion to investigate and make findings – and it alone decided what to include in the report and its conclusions. According to Ropes & Gray, the investigators interviewed more than 100 witnesses, had access to more than 1.3 million documents and publicly available information, including information from the USOC, USAG, survivors and others. The USOC granted Ropes & Gray access to all requested documents, witnesses and other information under its control, and required that USAG cooperate with the investigation.