On January 25, 2018, a Senate investigation was opened to examine how disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was able to abuse hundreds of young gymnasts for years. The report was released today, and it determined that the organizations designed to keep athletes safe — Michigan State University, the United States Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation — "fundamentally failed," to do so, NBC News reports.
These findings confirm what many survivors of Nassar's abuse have said in the past: when they tried to come forward, the organizations didn't punish him, or put actions in place that would prevent abuse from happening again. For example, McKayla Maroney spoke to the FBI about Nassar in 2015, but nothing happened. The new investigation concluded that, for 421 days, the FBI, USOC, and USAG failed to act or alert the place where Nassar worked at the time, Michigan State University, that he was sexually abusing athletes. "Whether it was a criminal cover-up remains to be proven, but it was a cover-up in spirit," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is the ranking member of the subcommittee that oversees the Olympics, told NBC News.
The report also included details about the "alarming and dysfunctional systems" within the insular athletic community that allowed a predator to flourish, and groomed young women to stay silent, the New York Times reports. Even in the aftermath of Nassar's sentencing, many outspoken gymnasts doubted the organizations' abilities to handle an investigation appropriately. "I refuse to wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing," Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman said in 2018. "It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed."
This investigation may have brought them one step closer to change. On Tuesday, they announced proposed bi-partisan legislation from Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Jerry Moran, called the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019, which is meant to give more congressional oversight to sports organizations. For example, the bill would allow Congress to dissolve the boards of USOC and USAG in instances of abuse, as well as give athletes more representation on the USOC board. Sen. Blumenthal has hopes that this step will result in a "seismic cultural shift" in athletics, he told the New York Times.