USOC: Entire USA Gymnastics board must resign over Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal
The United States Olympic Committee wants a full turnover of leadership following the sex abuse scandal
Immediately after former USA Gymnastics doctor the United States Olympic Committee published an open letter calling for a swift and complete turnover in leadership of USA Gymnastics on Wednesday.for sexually assaulting more than 150 women,
The detailed statement, signed by U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun, led with an apology before laying out the steps that need to be taken moving forward.
The most important part of that statement came when the the USOC asked for the resignations of the entire Board of Directors for USA Gymnastics, citing a need for change in culture moving forward., but the U.S. Olympic Committee says that the remaining 18 seated members must also follow suit.
We heard athletes describe being unsure or unaware of how to report abuse and to whom, and sometimes even what constitutes abuse. We heard athletes describe being afraid or discouraged from reporting abuse. We heard athletes describe feeling hurt, betrayed, discounted and alone. Since October of last year, we have been engaged in direct talks with USAG leadership on this fundamental point. New leadership at the board level is critical and you recently saw three USAG board resignations. Further changes are necessary to help create a culture that fosters safe sport practice, offers athletes strong resources in education and reporting, and ensures the healing of the victims and survivors. This includes a full turnover of leadership from the past, which means that all current USAG directors must resign.
If the USA Gymnastics board fails to comply with the request, the Olympic Committee says it will take steps to decertify the governing body -- meaning USAG will not get to crown national champions or select members to the Olympic or World Championship teams.
The USOC also said it is launching a third-party investigation in hopes of finding out who enabled Nassar's abuse to go on for such a prolonged period of time and why nothing was done to stop it. USA Gymnastics has been accused of implementing a "systematic cover-up" that prevented some of Nassar's abusers from speaking about the abuse, and an independent investigation found that a culture change was needed to make sure it never happens again.
Blackmun said that the results of that investigation, which will cover both USAG and the USOC, will be made public.
Wednesday's statement from the USOC also included an apology for not sending a representative to attend the sentencing process that has unfolded over the past few weeks. More than 150 gymnasts stepped forward to share their stories as Nassar sat just feet away from them in court. Several of the victims ---- questioned why the USOC was not present at those hearings.
From the USOC statement:
The athlete testimony that just concluded in the Nassar hearings framed the tragedy through the eyes of the victims and survivors, and was worse than our own worst fears. It was powerful because of the strength of the victims, survivors and parents, who so eloquently and forcefully told their stories and so rightfully demanded justice. The USOC should have been there to hear it in person, and I am deeply sorry that did not happen.
The purpose of this message is to tell all of Nassar's victims and survivors, directly, how incredibly sorry we are. We have said it in other contexts, but we have not been direct enough with you. We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren't afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams. The Olympic family is among those that have failed you.
Significant changes to the national gymnastics program are already underway thanks to the scandal, but Nassar's sentencing on Wednesday will likely (and appropriately) be just the beginning. The doctor's misconduct went on far too long and affected far too many athletes for it to fall on just one person.
Now that Nassar's death warrant has essentially been signed, attention will be turned to burying the people and institutions that allowed the abuse to happen, whether willfully or through astounding ignorance.
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