A Senate subcommittee will hold another hearing on the topic of abuse within Olympic sports. A new proposal to implement legislation in an attempt to block the systemic issue occurring under the purview of the U.S. Olympic Committee and national sports organizations said U.S Sen Richmond Blumenthal.
Blumenthal and Connecticut Child Advocate Sarah Eagan stood alongside four former elite athletes as they broke down the abuse scenarios that they each experienced during their time in sports.
The senator said the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, and other national sports governing bodies are amongst the bodies whom have been invited to testify at the upcoming May 22nd hearing.
“I want to know what they knew, when they knew it, and why they took no action, including the United States Olympic Committee, which also has a trust responsibility,” Blumenthal said.
Former speed skater Bridie Farrell was a 15-year-old aspiring Olympian when she says her former teammate, Andy Gabel, a prominent Olympic medalist, began sexually abusing her.
Bridie was among a number of top athletes who testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security’s first hearing in April. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Olympic Committee and amateur sports.
Farrell described the abuse as “this leash that he had on me that got tighter and tighter,” and said it eventually ended when Gabel left to compete in the 1998 Olympics and then retired from speed skating.
“And so, people say, ‘Well why didn’t you speak up then?’” Farrell said. “Well, he went on to run the Salt Lake Olympic Committee and he went on to be the president of USA Speed Skating. So, the leadership of my national governing body had molested me 100 times. Obviously, I wasn’t going to speak up.”
The U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent organization whose purpose is to educates and trains top athletes and staff, as well as investigating reports of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements. The center opened last March.
The organization does not have a statute of limitations dictating when people must come forward, and it maintains a public database detailing disciplinary decisions for those involved in misconduct.
The organization thus far has received 540 total reports across 38 different sports in its first year, out of the 540 so far 73 have resulted in lifetime bans.
“I think that’s a testament to the need for the center and the importance of the timing given the number of reports,” SafeSport spokesman Daniel Hill said.