The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is reportedly considering stripping USA Gymnastics (USAG) of its governing body status after it came to light that more than a hundred females (including children) were sexually abused by the organization’s team doctor Larry Nassar.
Controversy and the ban
“This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions… Seeking to revoke recognition is not a decision that we have come too easily, but I believe it is the right action. In the short-term, we will work to ensure that America’s gymnasts have the support necessary to excel on and off the field of play,” Sarah Hirshland, Chief Executive of USOC, said in an open letter. (The Epoch Times)
In January, Larry was sentenced to 175 years in prison for having abused about 160 female gymnasts over multiple decades. Victims include famous Olympic champions Simone Biles and Aly Raisman. Several prominent people in USAG have been accused of covering up Larry’s crimes and not taking appropriate action despite knowing the abuse he meted out to the girls.
Chief Executive Kerry Perry stepped down in September. Interim boss Mary Bono also resigned a month later. She had worked in a law firm that defended Larry during a sexual abuse scandal in 2015. Meanwhile, USAG high-performance team coordinator Tom Forster called USOC’s proposed decision a “strategic move” to appease critics of USAG for the organization’s failure at solving its “public image” problems. This has irked several gymnasts who say that USAG has not yet understood the real issue surrounding the sexual abuse scandal.
“You don’t have a public image problem. You have a severe culture program that led to the most prolific pedophile in American history running rampant for 30 years. They’ve learned nothing and it just proves the point that many of us have made, which is the abuse, the insidious abuse that’s so deeply embedded in the culture, they still don’t understand it. They don’t get it. They don’t get that that’s what led to Nassar doing what he did for so long and that we haven’t solved that just because he’s in prison,” Jennifer Sey, former U.S. champion gymnast, said to The Orange County Register.
Uncertainty and liabilities
If the Olympic Association succeeds in decertifying USAG, gymnastics clubs will stop paying for the association’s membership and the organization will eventually go bankrupt. The possibility of USAG closing shop is resulting in sleepless nights for many gymnasts who have invested their time and effort to hone their skills in the sport. Shutting down USAG will result in a loss of information, education, and competition that helps gymnasts get into college and beyond.
“I’m scared that we may have to do less gymnastics, and that we won’t be able to get to a higher level… It’s not our fault that this happened, so I think we should still be able to do what we love,” Lauren Murphy, an 11-year-old gymnast, said to Spectrum News.
Financial reports of USAG show that the organization is in deep trouble over the scandal. Revenues for 2017 have declined by about 28 percent from 2016, with the organization posting a loss of US$301,000 last year. As per estimates, USA Gymnastics may have to pay anywhere between US$75 million to US$150 million in damages to the survivors of the abuse.