U.S. officials face tough questions over gymnastics abuse report

Fri Aug 5, 2016 2:15pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) on Friday defended USA Gymnastics against criticism it turned a blind eye to sexual abuse and said it had no plans to conduct an investigation itself.

In their opening news briefing of the Games, the USOC leadership faced questions about a report in the Indianapolis Star on Thursday that said top USA Gymnastics officials failed to alert authorities to allegations of sexual abuse by coaches.

Reuters has not independently verified the report.

While not addressing the specifics of the allegations, USA Gymnastics said it encouraged any victims of abuse to report their allegations to police - something echoed by the USOC.

The USOC said it would not conduct an investigation itself and defended USA Gymnastics as one of the leaders in developing policies to protect athletes.

"We do not intend to investigate ... we do however have what we think is a state-of-the-art policy regarding abuse and misconduct," said USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun said, just hours before the Games' opening ceremony.

"I will say since we became more focused on this issue in 2010, like many others, USA Gymnastics has been one of the most vocal proponents of creating very strong policies, procedures, and investigative resources to take a look at this.

"Our policy is not to investigate, it is to report any credible suggestions that there is abuse taking place."   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Gymnastics training - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 03/08/2016. Danell Leyva (USA) of USA trains.       REUTERS/Dylan Martinez