USA Gymnastics Cuts Ties with Karolyi Ranch Amid Sex Abuse Scandal: Our 'Priority is Our Athletes'
USA Gymnastics officials announced on Thursday that they have cut ties with Karolyi Ranch — the legendary 40-acre camp used to train gymnasts for years — where several athletes have said they were sexually abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar.
USA Gymnastics president and CEO Kerry Perry announced in a statement that the organization has “terminated its agreement” with the Hunstville, Texas, ranch, noting that it “will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.”
“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December,” Perry said in the statement. “Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this.”
Karolyi Ranch, run by famed coaches Marta and Bela Karolyi, has long been credited for producing some of the world’s greatest gymnasts. Nestled in the Sam Houston National Forest, the ranch became the idyllic location for athletes. Young gymnasts dreaming of Olympic gold knew there was only one place to go if they wanted to earn their place on the Olympic team: Karolyis Camp.
However, the once-beloved ranch has come under scrutiny in recent years, as several former gymnasts have accused Nassar, 54, of sexual abuse and the Karolyis of failing to protect them. At the camp, gymnasts slept in cedar log cabins with air conditioning, bathrooms, and showers inside. It was there that former gymnast Jeanette Antolin said that Nassar abused her. She claims the Karolyis knew Nassar was alone in the cabins with the girls.
“They had to know. I mean, there — there was no one else sent with him,” she told told 60 Minutes. “And that’s the thing, too, to think, like– what– they– in– in the bed? Why would you– like, the treatment was in the bed, in my bed that I slept on at the ranch.”
Then, an attorney for the Karolyis denied any allegations made against the couple, saying in a statement to PEOPLE: “The Karolyis did not have any knowledge of any complaint from anyone concerning any athlete’s alleged mistreatment by Dr. Nassar until they learned of his dismissal from USA Gymnastics during the summer of 2015.”
The couple announced the end of the camp’s partnership with USA Gymnastics on the ranch’s website:
“After nearly four decades of spiriting young gymnasts towards greatness in sport, our yearly tradition of the Karolyi’s Gymnastics Camp has come to an end. Bela, Martha, and the rest of the camp staff wish to sincerely thank all participants, USA Gymnastics, and everyone who has been a part of our extended family for 35 years of unforgettable memories.”
RELATED VIDEO: Simone Biles Accuses Former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar of Sexual Abuse
More than 130 women and girls have accused Nassar, 54, of assault, including gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Nassar pleaded guilty in November to several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. He is expected to be sentenced on Friday.
Nassar was fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015 after working with the organization since 1986 — he had been its national medical coordinator since 1996, the New York Times reported. He was fired from Michigan State in 2016.