Larry Nassar abuse report: USOC apologises for failing to protect athletes

Larry Nassar (left)
Larry Nassar was found guilty of abusing girls at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University

The United States Olympics Committee has apologised after a report found that it failed to protect athletes from being sexually abused by Larry Nassar.

Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Nassar was jailed for more than 300 years after abusing at least 265 women.

The report found: "While Nassar bears ultimate responsibility for his decades-long abuse of girls and young women, he did not operate in a vacuum.

"Instead, he acted within an ecosystem that facilitated his criminal acts."

USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy earlier this month so it can "expeditiously resolve" claims by athletes sexually abused by Nassar.

The 233-page independent report into the scandal was commissioned by the USOC and involved more than 100 people being interviewed and a review of more than 1.3 million documents.

"Numerous institutions and individuals enabled his abuse and failed to stop him, including coaches at the club and elite level, trainers and medical professionals, administrators and coaches at Michigan State University (MSU), and officials at both United States of America Gymnastics (USAG) and the USOC," it said in the report.

"These institutions and individuals ignored red flags, failed to recognise textbook grooming behaviours, or in some egregious instances, dismissed clear calls for help from girls and young women who were being abused by Nassar.

"Multiple law enforcement agencies, in turn, failed effectively to intervene when presented with opportunities to do so."

The report added: "Nassar found an environment in elite gymnastics and Olympic sports that proved to be conducive to his criminal designs."

According to the report, former USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun and USOC chief of sport performance Alan Ashley were informed of sexual abuse allegations against Nassar in July 2015 but did not share the information with others in the organisation.

"The USOC took no action between July 2015 and the date the Indianapolis Star published its account of Nassar's child sexual abuse in September 2016," added the report.

"USAG's and the USOC's inaction and concealment had consequences: dozens of girls and young women were abused during the year-long period between the summer of 2015 and September 2016."

Blackmun resigned, citing health reasons, from the USOC in February 2018.

And the USOC confirmed to BBC Sport on Tuesday that Ashley's "employment was terminated this morning, based on the findings of the Ropes and Gray report".

"The US Olympic community failed the victims, survivors and their families, and we apologise 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."

The USOC says it has already implemented a number of reforms and initiatives to protect athletes and "will share information about additional actions it is taking as a result of these findings".

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