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US athletics watchdog closes probe into GOP House hopeful

US athletics watchdog closes probe into GOP House hopeful
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The nonprofit charged with investigating abuse in Olympic-sanctioned sports programs has closed its investigation into a former Olympic cyclist and Republican congressional candidate accused of sexual misconduct. 

Michael Henry, the director of investigations and outcomes at the U.S. Center for SafeSport, said in an email to representatives of Republican Marty Nothstein that the center had not uncovered evidence to warrant further proceedings against the candidate. 

"The Center has completed its inquiry into those allegations and has determined that, based on the information and evidence currently available, the Center is not proceeding with any further proceedings at this time and the matter is now closed," Henry wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill. 

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"Per the SafeSport code, if the center learns of additionally relevant information or evidence, it may reopen the matter for further inquiry and/or investigation," the email reads. 

Lehigh Valley Live reports that Nothstein is slated to speak at noon Friday to address the investigation and announce he is cleared of the sexual misconduct claims.

Nothstein is running to replace former Rep. Pat MeehanPatrick (Pat) Leo MeehanMany authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress Dem Scanlon wins House seat in Pennsylvania US athletics watchdog closes probe into GOP House hopeful MORE (R-Pa.) in Pennsylvania's 7th District. Meehan resigned earlier this year following revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim from a former staffer.

The Morning Call newspaper first reported last week that Nothstein had been placed on leave earlier this year from his position as executive director of the Lehigh Valley velodrome after the company’s board discovered he was the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation. 

The details of the claim against Nothstein are unknown, but dates back to an alleged incident in 2000 — the same year that Nothstein won an Olympic gold medal. 

Nothstein's campaign has said that the SafeSport investigation began after a tip to the U.S. Olympic-related organization in October 2017, days after Nothstein announced his candidacy for the House.

In a statement on Thursday, Nothstein said that he would consult advisers on his next steps and accused his political opponents of trying to "rig" the election. 

"At this point, I am conferring with my advisors about the next step in this process. This has been a nightmare for me, for my family, and for my campaign staff and I intend to make certain that this injustice is corrected," Nothstein said.

“We need to make it clear to my opponents that you can’t rig an election by smear."