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US Olympic Gymnasts Testify About Alleged Sexual Abuse

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., shakes hands with Dominique Moceanu,1996 Olympic gymnastics gold medalist, before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Protecting Young Athletes From Sexual Abuse" on Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Three former members of the United States national gymnastics team have testified to a Senate Committee aimed at protecting young athletes from abuse.

Atlanta 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu, Sydney 2000 bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher and Jessica Howard, the US national rhythmic gymnastics champion from 1999 to 2001, appeared at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

It comes after allegations of sexual abuse made against Lawrence Nassar, an ex-team doctor.

“The well-being of the athletes should always come first, and to me, this is one of the most important things in sport,” Moceanu said while testifying, as reported by CBS News.

“And it was lacking in our own sport tremendously because everybody around us knew that abuses were going on, but they chose not to act because it became part of the cultural norm.

“I do believe that if we could clean this up with the mandatory reporting, I believe that will help a lot of our concerns.”

The hearing discussed a bill which could change sexual abuse guidelines in Olympic sports in the US.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is behind the bill, which calls for organizations to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement or the appropriate authorities.

In a press conference following the hearing, Feinstein reportedly said the bill would “require amateur athletics governing bodies, like USA Gymnastics, and adults who work with young athletes, to immediately report allegations of sexual abuse to local or federal law enforcement”.

It is hoped the bill will ensure that victims can safely and easily report abuse.

“Failures to report would be a federal crime,” said Feinstein.

“It would also mandate greater oversight of member gyms and coaches.”

Steve Penny resigned as the President and chief executive of USA Gymnastics earlier this month in the face of mounting pressure at the organisation, regarding the ongoing sexual abuse scandal.

United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Board members have “reached a consensus” on how to react to the crisis, but have not revealed exactly what they proposed.

Dantzscher and Howard joined Jeanette Antolin, a Pan American Games silver medalist, in detailing alleged abuse by Nassar on the CBS 60 Minutes program broadcast on February 19.

Dantzscher filed a lawsuit against Nassar in California last September as “Jane Doe.”

Nassar remains in jail awaiting trial.

John Manly, a California attorney representing more than 40 women in a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics for failing to protect his clients, claimed that Nassar may have abused hundreds of women over more than two decades.

It is claimed the governing body did not fully report allegations of sexual misconduct made by female team members.

By Max Winters

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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