The May 2016 report from the Democratic staff of the Committee on Energy and Commerce accusing the league of improperly attempting to influence the use of funds donated for concussion research generated plenty of bad P.R. for the NFL. It created a more specific problem for Richard Ellenbogen, MD, the co-chair of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee.
Dr. Ellenbogen serves as the chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Due to the allegations made against the league, the University of Washington initiated an investigation of Dr. Ellenbogen. On Friday, Ellenbogen was cleared.
The committee assigned to explore the matter concluded that Dr. Ellenbogen “did not attempt in any improper way to influence the selection or award process for the NIH research grant to be funded by the NFL or otherwise violate any applicable or generally accepted ethical standards in his work on behalf of the HNS committee.”
“Dr. Richard Ellenbogen is one of the foremost authorities and accomplished leaders in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of traumatic brain injuries,” the NFL said in a statement provided to PFT. “We commend Dr. Paul Ramsey, CEO of UW Medicine, Executive vice president for medical affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Washington for executing a fair and balanced review of the congressional minority staff report.”
The Washington investigation had its limits, however. Most significantly, Dr. Walter Koroshetz — a key source for the allegations made by the Democratic staff — declined to cooperate, explaining that he “stood by the information contained in the report produced in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.” Without the chance to question Koroshetz, the latest review necessarily is incomplete.
This makes a full, complete, objective, and unbiased examination of the situation even more important. On Thursday, the Republican staff of the Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee requested a formal investigation by the Inspector General. It’s impossible to make any reliable and final conclusions on the topic until that happens.
[Photo credit: Popular Science.]