April 11, 2018 / 9:40 PM / 9 months ago

U.S. Senate panel to hold hearing on sexual abuse of Olympic athletes

FILE PHOTO: Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault, listens to victims impact statements during his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) - The U.S. Senate will hold a hearing next week into how the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and other sports organisations handled sexual misconduct allegations.

A Senate Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing on April 18, with a number of athletes expected to testify.

Several U.S. sports organisations have been criticised for not acting on complaints of abuse by former sports physician Larry Nassar and others.

“As part of the subcommittee’s ongoing investigation, we have invited athletes representing multiple sports to testify at our first hearing,” said Republican Senator Jerry Moran, who chairs the panel that will hold the hearing. “We appreciate the willingness of these athletes – who share in our determination to root out abuse in youth sport governing bodies – to share their stories.”

In recent months, several congressional committees have asked the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and 48 national governing bodies of various sports and Michigan State University for answers to questions about sexual abuse within organised sports.

In February, U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Executive Scott Blackmun resigned for medical reasons, following months of sustained criticism stemming from the sex abuse scandal involving Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics doctor.

Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting female athletes under the guise of medical treatment and in January was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.

The USOC outlined reforms aimed at protecting its athletes from abuse. The scandal prompted the entire board of directors at USA Gymnastics, the sport’s U.S. governing body, to resign, along with the president and athletic director of Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked. It also spawned lawsuits and criminal and civil investigations.

Authorities say Nassar victimised more than 260 women and girls, including several Olympic gold medallists. Nearly 200 of them offered testimony during a pair of sentencing hearings in Michigan earlier this year.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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