Eva Rodansky, the former world-class speedskater whose career was at least indirectly derailed by sexual misconduct in that sport, has given Concussion Inc. permission to publish the text of her letter last week to Molly Fishman, a legislative assistant on women’s rights issues for Congresswoman Jackie Speier, regarding last week’s dud report by the Government Accountability Office on amateur sports sex abuse.
In her own somewhat vapid statement on the report, Congresswoman Speier praised how it called attention to the “quiet epidemic” of abuse. Speier was speaking as the self-appointed minority party leader on this issue, having inherited the claim from retired Congressman George Miller, who two years earlier had asked the GAO to report on the federal legislative and policy questions surrounding rampant abuse at USA Swimming and other national sports governing bodies.
Rodansky tells us that she has received no response whatsoever to what we find a devastatingly well-articulated critique of the GAO report. Evidently, Fishman and Speier have no intention of even acknowledging that they received it.
Below Rodansky’s letter are our links to some of the other articles from this site on her work.
As one of the athlete witnesses who had provided information to Congressman Miller’s investigation, I am writing to follow up on the GAO report on sexual abuse in Olympic sports. I am hoping that this report is only the beginning, and that Congresswoman Speier’s office will continue this investigation.
When I read the GAO’s report, I was very disappointed that victims’ and other witnesses’ stories were considered to be beyond the scope of this report. I think it is reasonable to believe that the victims’ stories of being failed by the system should have been the top priority and the starting point of this investigation, and that includes victims who were failed by this system both before and after the implementation of SafeSport. Instead, the GAO’s anonymous authors performed a review of existing policy, and even cited an anonymous USOC insider source on the future plans for a new agency. Why should we trust that this “agency” will succeed where SafeSport failed? What reason would we have to believe that this new agency will do anything other than provide jobs for Bryan Cave and friends?
Any one of the stories of sexual abuse of athletes is, in isolation, enough to make a person sick to their stomach. In swimming alone, there are over 100 coaches who have been banned for life for abusing athletes. This is two orders of magnitude worse than the Penn State scandal – and that only includes the coaches whose abuse has actually been exposed. From my own experience, which I have shared with investigators, sexual abuse and cover-ups have also happened in US Speedskating. Swimming is not the only sport in which abuse has become a problem.
Now that I have seen the GAO report and have been made aware that my (and others’) information will not be shared with the public, what will happen next? There are a few things I would like to see. First: The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act needs to be reformed, in order to provide specific protections for athletes from sexual abuse and from sexual discrimination. Secondly, the stories of the athlete victims of sexual abuse and sexual discrimination in Olympic and club sports need to be shared with the public.
There are also a few items specific to US Speedskating that I would like to happen. The story of Michael Crowe’s affair with one of the female speedskaters on the team, the blatant conflict of interest and subsequent destructive effects on the other female speedskaters, as well as US Speedskating’s and the USOC’s cover-up of these events, should be exposed in the mainstream sports media. Since the GAO report mentioned that the USOC and NGBs will likely be maintaining a list of banned coaches, I would like to see a formal lifetime ban on Michael Crowe, to prevent him from ever coaching speedskating in the USA again (he currently coaches in Canada, where he has been coaching since his firing by USS in the spring of 2006).
Also relevant is US Speedskating’s cover-up and dishonesty regarding the Sidley-Austin investigation into sexual abuse of athletes by Andy Gabel. After originally stating that they hired the law firm Sidley-Austin to investigate these charges against Gabel, US Speedskating changed the mandate of the investigation after Sidley-Austin’s report was completed, saying the law firm was hired to investigate whether USS had the appropriate SafeSport policies in place. USS also refused to release, publicly or to their membership, the findings of the Sidley-Austin report. I suspect that US Speedskating does not want anyone to see these findings because there may be information showing that USS has failed to deal appropriately with authority figures of the sport who have sexually abused athletes, or abused their power in other ways. This points out a big problem with national governing bodies hiring their own investigators: It seems to be mainly done as a PR stunt, while giving them ultimate control over the results and whether or not to release them.
I sincerely hope that Congresswoman Speier’s office intends to follow up on these serious issues of athlete abuse in amateur sports. If you are interested in pursuing the speedskating-related issues in further detail, please contact me, and I can provide you with a list of names of additional witnesses who may be able to provide more information.
Very truly yours,