First responses have been received over the Larry Nassar scandal ©Getty Images

First responses from the Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) over the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal have been received by a Senate inquiry.

Senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal opened the first of three congressional investigations into the scandal last month.

Their investigation centres around the "USOC's systemic failures to protect athletes from sexual abuse and the reported filing of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to silence a victim of abuse in relation to the Larry Nassar abuse case".

Olympic gold medallist McKayla Maroney had a statement read out on her behalf in court last month, with reports then claiming she faced a $100,000 (£72,000/€83,000) fine for speaking at the sentencing hearing because of a non-disclosure agreement.

Nassar, the national medical coordination officer for USA Gymnastics between 1996 and 2014, was jailed for up to 175 years on seven counts of criminal sexual abuse against athletes.

A total of 260 women have so far claimed that he sexually abused them as he conducted medical treatment on them.

Responses were requested from Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and USOC, with answers specifically sought to nine questions.

The inquiry has now published the opening responses from the organisations.

Michigan State, where Nassar worked, have defended themselves by claiming there is no indication that members of staff understood prior to September 2016 of investigations into the disgraced doctor.

Senators Richard Blumenthal, pictured, and Jerry Moran opened the investigation last month ©Getty Images
Senators Richard Blumenthal, pictured, and Jerry Moran opened the investigation last month ©Getty Images

"Past and present MSU employees have said that they do not remember the alleged reports to them (some of which would have taken place as many as 20 years ago) as they have been described," the university's letter stated.

"To date, there has been no indication that any MSU employee understood at any time prior to September 2016 that Nassar engaged in sexual misconduct.

"As noted earlier, MSU continues to investigate and may learn more as part of the litigation discovery process."

The University stated they were only made aware of a criminal complaint made in 2004 to Meridian Township Police Department in September 2016.

Nassar had also discussed via email with a colleague at the University in 2015 that USA Gymnastics were investigating him over concerns expressed by gymnasts over his techniques.

Michigan State claim the emails "do not indicate that the former employee discussed this information with anyone at MSU prior to September 2016".

USA Gymnastics produced a timeline drawn up by the organisation, stating that they were contacted by a coach in June 2015 after an athlete complained of treatment she had received from Nassar.

A five week internal investigation followed, before USA Gymnastics held a meeting with the FBI in July.

"At the meeting, USA Gymnastics was assured by the FBI that it was the appropriate agency to contact and that USA Gymnastics had handled the matter correctly," USA Gymnastics President and chief executive Kerry Perry said.

"At that time, USA Gymnastics provided the FBI with contact information for the three interviewed athletes and their families.

"USA Gymnastics offered to assist the FBI with any necessary support, including facilitating interviews.

"USA Gymnastics also notified the three families that law enforcement had been contacted.

"The FBI asked USA Gymnastics not to take any steps that would interfere with their investigation."

USOC wrote that their chief executive Scott Blackmun agreed the case be immediately reported to law enforcement after being informed in July 2015 ©Getty Images
USOC wrote that their chief executive Scott Blackmun agreed the case be immediately reported to law enforcement after being informed in July 2015 ©Getty Images

USA Gymnastics stated they contacted the FBI in in April 2016 to re-report the cases having been concerned over the "perceived lack of progress".

USOC's response came from their lawyer Brian Smith, who said it is understood the organisation first became aware of the abuse in late July 2015, when former USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny met with USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun.

"At that time, Mr Penny informed Mr Blackmun that there were reports from three athletes concerning a USA Gymnastics physician, and that the issue was being reported to law enforcement," the letter read.

"Mr Blackmun agreed that the matter needed to be reported immediately to law enforcement, which was consistent with the Olympic Committee's policies and guidance at the time."

The letter also states Ropes & Gray have been appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the abuse by Nassar to determine when individuals affiliated with USA Gymnastics or USOC "first became aware of any evidence of Nassar's abuse of athletes, what that evidence was, and what they did with it".

"Joan McPhee and James Dowden, both former federal prosecutors, will lead the investigation," the USOC wrote.

"The investigators will have full discretion to conduct the investigation and may make any findings they deem appropriate.

"The Olympic Committee directed Ropes & Gray to prepare and issue a public written report at the conclusion of the investigation.

"The Olympic Committee pledged its full support to the investigation, including access to relevant documents and witnesses. 

"USA Gymnastics has also confirmed its cooperation."

Earlier this month, USOC chairman Larry Probst claimed that Blackmun, who has missed the start of the ongoing Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang as he recovers from treatment for prostate cancer, did the "right thing at the right time" in the way he responded to allegations about Nassar in 2015.

Senators Joni Ernst and Jeanne Shaheen last week joined growing calls for Blackmun to resign.

Probst suggested no personnel changes will be considered until the completion of their "independent" investigation.

There is no timeline for this review to be completed.

Aly Raisman posted on Instagram telling women to be comfortable to express themselves ©Instagram
Aly Raisman posted on Instagram telling women to be comfortable to express themselves ©Instagram

Former gymnast Aly Raisman has encouraged women to feel comfortable in expressing themselves.

The Rio 2016 gold medallist was one of the athletes to speak at Nassar's sentencing, having been the victim of abuse.

Posing naked on Instagram, Raisman had words "fierce", "trust yourself", "survivor" and "women do not have to be modest to be respected" written on her.

"Women do not have to be modest to be respected - live for you," she wrote.

"Everyone should feel comfortable expressing themselves however makes them happy.

"Women can be intelligent, fierce, sexy, powerful, strong, advocate for change while wearing what makes them feel best.

"The time where women are taught to be ashamed of their bodies is OVER.

"The female body is beautiful and we should all be proud of who we are, inside and out."

Michigan State University's response to the investigation can be found here here.

USA Gymnastics' reply can be accessed here here.

USOC's reply can be accessed here here.