USFS needs 'immediate change,' says Senator Blumenthal


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U.S. Figure Skating must make ''immediate change'' in the wake of the U.S. Center for SafeSport's chilling assessment that the national governing body has a culture of sexual abuse that has gone “unchecked for too long,” Senator Richard Blumenthal told USA TODAY Sports in an email Tuesday evening.

“I am appalled that no one in authority appears to understand the lessons of the horrific failures that enabled Larry Nassar’s abuse of young gymnasts for almost 30 years,” wrote Blumenthal, D-Conn., the ranking member of the Senate subcommittee investigating the Olympic sexual abuse scandal.


“SafeSport’s sharp remarks on the culture of abuse in USFS must prompt immediate change, not deafening silence or finger-pointing,” he said. “Rigorous oversight, increased transparency, and full accountability are needed to protect the safety of young athletes, build a culture that encourages survivors to come forward, and restore the reputations of these institutions.”

Civil rights attorney Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer and CEO of Champion Women, also criticized USFS’s silence.

“U.S. Figure Skating is sending a clear message that they don’t care about victims,” Hogshead-Makar said in a phone interview. “There is a culture of coaches molesting and ‘dating’ their athletes, and older athletes ‘dating’ younger athletes, and of course in both cases it’s about power — the power an older athlete has over a younger athlete. USFS has done nothing to address that issue. It’s very revealing how badly they don’t want to upset the current status quo of who has the power.”

“Larry Nassar gave the Olympic movement a gift — a gift of the opportunity to take something so horrible and be able to change a very damaging culture into something better. NGBs can either use that gift and make it happen or it can be as torturous and as damaging as can be imagined.

"Either USFS can have integrity and investigate its culture and come clean and apologize and make it right with the victims, or they can let John Manly do all that.”

In his email, Blumenthal also called out the U.S. Olympic Committee, saying both USFS and the USOC “still seem to be sleepwalking through the sex abuse nightmare.”

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Looks like this response from USFS was added into the article today:
On Wednesday evening, several hours after the publication of this story, USFS issued a statement saying that it met with SafeSport in its Denver office March 12 “with a goal to learn about any factual scenarios that led to the Center’s public statements regarding U.S. Figure Skating. At that time, U.S. Figure Skating shared with the Center its nearly two-decades of work and accountability in taking action in the area of athlete safety and prevention of abuse.”

Since then, USFS and SafeSport have had “an ongoing dialogue to address topics raised by the Center,” USFS said.

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