DENVER (AP) - A former sports medicine executive at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the federation, contending he was fired for urging managers to react more strongly to his concerns about abuse and other athlete-safety issues.
Bill Moreau, the former vice president of sports medicine, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Denver. He was fired in May 2019 after working for the USOPC for 10 years.
“This case is not only about the way the USOC treated me, it is also about protecting the athletes that the USOC has for far too long knowingly put in harm’s way,” Moreau said of the federation that recently changed its name from “USOC.”
The USOPC, which has often provided minimal context or comment in regard to litigation, put out a stronger statement regarding this lawsuit.
“We regret that Dr. Moreau and his attorney have misrepresented the causes of his separation from the USOPC,” said spokeswoman Luella Chavez D’Angelo. “We will honor their decision to see this matter through in the courts, and we won’t comment on the specifics as that goes forward.”
According to a news release detailing the lawsuit, Moreau “urged the USOC to end its practice of creating incomplete medical records for patients, thereby putting athlete-patients in danger. He pushed the USOC sports performance staff to stop wrongly accessing patients’ medical files, in violation of patients’ privacy rights.”
The lawsuit spells out a handful of cases Moreau said he brought to his supervisors’ attention, all of which he claims were handled inappropriately.
According to the lawsuit, those instances included:
-A case in which a 15-year-old Paralympic athlete was thinking about suicide after having sex with a 20-year-old athlete while they were in Iowa competing at the Drake Relays. Moreau said he informed his bosses about the statutory rape but they didn’t report it until three days after the 24-hour reporting period had ended.
-Moreau learned Olympic silver medalist cyclist Kelly Catlin had attempted suicide and stopped going to psychiatric care. He urged USOPC high-performance chief Rick Adams that the federation needed to provide Catlin help beyond what the group’s internal professionals were providing. Catlin took her life the day after Moreau brought his concerns to Adams a second time.
Since the Larry Nassar scandal, in which more than 350 women said he abused them, the USOPC has been under extensive scrutiny from Congress, which passed a law in 2018 that strengthened reporting requirements in cases of sexual abuse. Congress has also introduced a bill that would greatly increase its oversight of the federation. The Justice Department is looking into the USOPC’s handling of sex-abuse allegations over a span of decades, and two internally commissioned investigations have detailed the federation’s failures in protecting athletes.
Moreau, who holds a chiropractic degree, was fired in May 2019. According to the lawsuit, the USOPC told him he was fired because he didn’t have a doctor of medicine degree. His replacement was another chiropractor.
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