The U.S. Department of Justice is underway with a wide-spread investigation into sexual abuse in U.S. Olympic sports organizations as well as potential financial and business misconduct in the system, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The DOJ is the latest to investigate the Olympic organizations, mainly USA Gymnastics, stemming from the Larry Nassar scandal.
Per the Wall Street Journal’s source, the DOJ is looking at “failures in the Olympic system, writ large, to respond to signs of widespread child abuse.” It is also reportedly looking into if power dynamics in the organizations result in exploitation. There was no report on how long the investigation has been underway or when it would be done.
One part of the investigation, which expands to cover international sports corruption, was reported in January by the New York Times. Per the Times, the DOJ is investigating possible racketeering, money laundering and honest service fraud charges related to bids for elite competitions.
The money-laundering and child-exploitation units and the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., issued subpoenas to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the U.S. Center for SafeSport. Safesport was set up in 2017 to independently handle reports of abuse in the U.S. Olympic organization.
Investigators in the public integrity unit are looking at how the FBI handled reports of abuse by Larry Nassar, the team doctor who abused gymnasts. The FBI received a report of possible abuse in 2015, but did nothing for almost a year and USA Gymnastics stayed mum. The story broke in the Indianapolis Star in 2016 when Rachel Denhollander publicly accused Nassar.
USOPC spokesman Mark Jones released a statement to USA TODAY Sports.
"Every instance related to potential or actual abuse of athletes warrants thorough investigation. We have cooperated with all government inquiries and will continue to do so.”
Per the Journal, prosecutors and investigators from the Internal Revenue Service have spoken with witnesses about abuse and misconduct in USA Gymnastics and USA Twekwondo, two organizations in the spotlight for their mishandling of abuse allegations.
The DOJ is the latest to get involved in investigations and inquiries. Last week, Michigan State University, where Nassar worked, was fined a record $4.5 million by the federal government for its mishandling of the case.
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