The effects of the abuse scandal that has roiled American gymnastics continued on Monday as the United States Olympic Committee announced plans to remove USA Gymnastics as the national governing body of the sport.
“Today the United States Olympic Committee has filed a complaint initiating a Section 8 proceeding against USA Gymnastics, seeking to revoke USAG’s recognition as a member National Governing Body of the USOC,” Sarah Hirshland, the USOC CEO, said in a statement.
The move comes amid a tumultuous time for American gymnastics. In January, Larry Nassar, a former doctor for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, was sentenced to more than 175 years in prison for sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts.
USA Gymnastics has wavered in the aftermath of the revelations. An Indianapolis Star report found that USA Gymnastics allegedly worked with Nassar to make excuses for his absence when he was under investigation.
In September, Kerry Perry resigned as CEO after nine months on the job. And in October, Mary Bono stepped down as interim CEO after Biles slammed her for an anti-Nike tweet and questions were raised about Bono’s relationship with a law firm that was connected to the Nassar scandal, The New York Times reported.
“This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions. Seeking to revoke recognition is not a conclusion that we have come to easily. In the short-term, we have to work to ensure that USAG gymnasts have the support necessary to excel on and off the field of play,” Hirshland’s statement continued.
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“In the long-term, it will be the critically important responsibility of the recognized Gymnastics NGB, whether the existing organization or a new one, to lead gymnastics in the United States and build on the supportive community of athletes and clubs that can carry the sport forward for decades to come,” the statement said.
“USA Gymnastics is carefully reviewing the contents of this letter and is evaluating the best path forward for our athletes, professional members, the organization and staff,” the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors responded in a statement.
“USA Gymnastics’ board was seated in June 2018 and inherited an organization in crisis with significant challenges that were years in the making,” the board’s statement added. “In the four months since, the Board has done everything it could to move this organization towards a better future. We immediately took steps to change the leadership and are currently conducting a search to find a CEO who can rebuild the organization and, most importantly, regain the trust of the gymnastics community.”
“Substantial work remains — in particular, working with the plaintiffs and USA Gymnastics’ insurers to resolve the ongoing litigation as quickly as possible,” the board’s statement ended. “We will continue to prioritize our athletes’ health and safety and focus on acting in the best interests of the greater gymnastics community.”
“Well… the real test begins,” Olympian Samantha Peszek tweeted in response to the news. “How will we rise from this? How will be become stronger & more importantly, how will we become better?”
In an open letter to the gymnastics community, Hirshland told gymnasts, “You deserve better.”