COLORADO SPRINGS – The U.S. Olympic Committee has fired chief of sport performance Alan Ashley in the wake of an independent report that said neither he nor former CEO Scott Blackmun elevated concerns about the Larry Nassar sexual abuse allegations when they were first reported to them.
The 233-page independent report was released Monday. It detailed an overall lack of response when the USOC leaders first heard about the Nassar allegations from the then-president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny.
Blackmun resigned in February because of health concerns.
The report says the USOC took no action between first hearing of the allegations in July 2015 and September 2016, when the Indianapolis Star published an account of Nassar’s sex abuse.
The report concludes that lack of action allowed Nassar to abuse dozens more girls over the 14 months of silence.
“That’s shocking and sad,” said Tom Forster, USA Women’s Gymnastic’s High-Performance Team Coordinator and a Mitchell High School graduate who owns Colorado Springs’ Aerials Gymnastics. “If nothing happened because they didn’t believe it, that’s equally sad.”
Forster holds the position previously held by Valeri Liukin, who resigned in February due to stress from the fallout of the Nassar scandal. Before that, the position was held by Martha Karolyi, who, along with her husband Bela, were also implicated in the investigation for fostering an environment at their Texas ranch which enabled Nassar to have “broad latitude” to abuse young gymnasts.
“Culturally, we’ve been awakened to say, you know, we’ve got to investigate a little more,” Forster said. “You can’t just give people trust. They have to earn it, no matter what their position.”
The USOC issued a statement Monday in reaction to the report’s findings, saying, in part, “The U.S. Olympic community failed the victims, survivors and their families, and we apologize again to everyone who has been harmed.”
“People in charge of protecting athletes and keeping things safe dropped the ball in this area, so I think it’s completely appropriate to apologize,” Forster said.