Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden presses Olympic Committee leaders for answers about sexual abuse in organized sports

May 23, 2018
Press Release

Greg Walden presses Olympic Committee leaders for answers about sexual abuse in organized sports

Says that more must be done to ensure athlete safety is the top priority

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce, today pressed Olympic leaders for answers about the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic community. During a hearing before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Walden examined whether the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has adequate policies and procedures in place to protect athletes at all levels of sport from abuse. 

"In pursuit of their dreams, athletes of all levels have frequent contact with coaches, doctors, trainers, and volunteers who are given responsibility beyond simply enabling these young athletes to achieve excellence in their chosen sport; we entrust them with athletes’ safety and well-being,” said Walden. “These individuals often hold positions of great power and authority over the athletes.  Not only can they control an athlete’s training schedule or medical treatment, those very individuals often have a direct say in that athlete’s career, such as deciding who competes in an upcoming event.  As has become abundantly clear, too many authority figures have abused their power and influence and harmed the very athletes that trusted them.”

This hearing follows a months-long bipartisan investigation led by Walden into the USOC and all 48 National Governing Bodies (NGB), as well as Michigan State University, related to the management, handling, and prevention of sexual abuse.

"The Committee has spoken with numerous survivors in the course of this investigation, and we thank all of them for their assistance in this work.  We know that their stories are not easy to tell,” said Walden today.  “There were far too many similarities in what we heard.  Individuals in positions of power not only abused the trust of their athletes, but physically abused them as well.  And when survivors sought help, far too many felt that the system was not built to protect them, but rather to shield their abusers and the sport’s reputation.  They felt silenced.” 

In January, Walden was joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending letters to USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Michigan State University, USA Swimming, and USA Taekwondo regarding sexual abuse in organized sports. Walden’s investigation followed the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar for his abuse of more than 150 women and girls, as well as last year’s reports of sexual misconduct allegations in the Taekwondo community, and the 2014 allegations of sexual abuse from 19 former U.S. swimmers.

During today’s hearing, Walden said that more must be done to ensure athlete safety in organized sports is the top priority.

“In the eyes of many survivors, the culture of ‘medals and money’ won out over athlete safety and protection,” said Walden “Changes have been made in the Olympic community over the past decade, in particular within the last year, that show how things are moving in the right direction.  However, many questions remain about whether the community has come far enough and moved fast enough.”

For more information about the hearing, including a background memo, witness testimony, and archived webcast, please click here.