AMERICAN football's governing body - the National Football League - is embroiled in one of its biggest scandals in decades over its handling of a video showing one of the game's biggest stars punching his girlfriend.
The video - which shocked even President Barack Obama and prompted outrage across the US - shows Super Bowl winner Ray Rice knocking his fiancee unconscious with a punch to the head. Yesterday the NFL finally admitted that it was investigating a report that five months ago a law enforcement official sent them a video of the February 15 incident.
Until now, the NFL has repeatedly denied that anyone in the league office saw the footage before it was released by website TMZ on Monday.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said yesterday in a memo to owners that the league asked law enforcement for the video "on multiple occasions" and no tape was provided. An unidentified law enforcement official claimed that he sent an unsolicited DVD copy to the league's New York office in April. A 12-second voice message from an NFL office number on April 9 includes a female voice confirming the arrival of the disk and saying: "You're right. It's terrible."
The league "will look into" the story, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said yesterday. "We have no knowledge of this," McCarthy said. "We are not aware of anyone in our office who possessed or saw the video before it was made public."
Mr Goodell faced calls to step down over his mishandling of the assault, while Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent him a letter raising questions about the response.
Rice's team, the Baltimore Ravens, terminated his contract shortly after the video of the incident was leaked. He has also being suspended indefinitely by the NFL