In January, more than 150 gymnasts spoke out against former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar turning the spotlight on athlete abuse. The USA gymnastics sexual abuse story that broke out right before the Rio Olympic Games became the catalyst for openly talking about the problem.

“People are just starting to listen to us,” said Jordyn Wieber, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. The Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security heard the stories of four elite athletes. In total, 250 people came forward to speak in court against Dr. Nassar. Now other sports teams including swimming, taekwondo, and volleyball have also recently faced sexual abuse scandals.

larry nassar

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has been working to ensure the safety of athletes. A USOC spokesman said: “We have been cooperating with Congress on the important issue of athlete safety for more than a year and we welcome the opportunity to continue the dialogue at the upcoming hearings and beyond. We share a common goal of better protecting and empowering the athletes who are at the center of the Olympic and Paralympic movements.”

The scandal prompted the board of directors at USA Gymnastics to resign, along with top officials at Michigan State. Other changes have also been made like a restructuring and layoffs and shrinking its board of directors from 21 to 15. Now the majority of directors must be independent of the organization.

Legislation has been signed into law making child abuse reporting mandatory for the USOC and other amateur sports organization. New Chief Executive of the U.S.A. Gymnastics, Kerry Perry fired Rhonda Faehn who had been running the women’s program.

In March 2017, SafeSport was launched as an independent body to investigate sexual misconduct and to foster athlete safety. SafeSport Policy provides more information regarding abuse, expands definitions of misconduct, strengthens procedures for reporting and processing allegations of misconduct. The United States Center for SafeSport also offers a 24-hour victim services helpline.

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