#MeToo shows need for tighter rules in club and Olympic sports (USA)
Last week, McKayla Maroney tweeted a message with the hashtag #MeToo, alleging she was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. With her disclosure, she not only identified herself as one of the more than 140 women who have said they’ve been abused by Nassar, who has plead guilty to child pornography charges, but she also re-emphasized that the ubiquitous nature of abuse reaches even the highest levels.
Numerous athletes from all types of sports and women working in athletics have joined the #MeToo movement, including another Olympic gold medalist, gymnast Tatiana Gutsu.
Coaches and reporters tweeted about being groped or flashed, and athletes tweeted repeatedly about the entitlement of their male peer athletes and, in particular, about powerful, sexually demanding coaches. These coaches wield Weinstein-level power over athletes with playing time, scholarships, skill coaching or even a berth on an Olympic team. They can make or break an athlete’s career. As Maroney wrote, “I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there were unnecessary and disgusting.”
I am a rape survivor. And in my professional work as an attorney, I have been involved in trying to address sexual abuse in club and Olympic sports for seven years.
As a lawyer representing victims of campus sexual violence, I became familiar with the legal protections under Title IX that schools owe to their students. Regardless of whether there is a criminal investigation, a school must take prompt and effective steps to end the sexual violence, prevent its recurrence and address its effects. Frequently, my job is to make sure violence didn’t interfere with a student’s academic trajectory, that the student could stay in school and graduate without his or her GPA taking a hit. I try to ensure the availability of the types of accommodations Duke University made for me after I was raped in 1981.
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