For the past weeks, one of the biggest news about the world of gymnastics is the issue between the USA Gymnastics’ tie with the national gymnastics team’s physician, Larry Nassar, and their legal debacle with regards to Nassar’s sexual abuse cases.
The Indianapolis Star has reported more than 360 other cases in which gymnasts, including Olympians, accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years. More than 80 of those have come forward with sexual abuse allegations against Nassar, which is the physician to the organization since 1996 to 2015.
In November, Nassar was charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than thirteen by the Michigan attorney general. On January, he was arraigned in Ingham County on twenty-two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and fourteen lesser included alternative charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Aside from those, he was also indicted in December on two federal charges related to child pornography.
In the midst of this debacle, many accounts has testified that the USA Gymnastics’ president and CEO Steve Penny has failed to do his job to report physical, emotional and psychological abuse to the proper officials although he has suspected it has been happening under his watch. Also, according to 5,000 pages of USA Gymnastics documents released by a Georgia judge for an Indianapolis Star investigation revealed that USA Gymnastics did not ban coaches for several years even though they had been convicted of sex crimes against children.
In the organization’s defense, they did make a move and spent five weeks conducting an investigation before reporting Nassar to the FBI and removing him from position. On Wednesday evening, the organization released a statement on USA Today Sports stating that, “Steve Penny is among the strongest advocates for our athletes and has reported suspected instances of abuse to law enforcement himself. He takes their safety seriously, and over the course of his tenure as CEO, has strengthened USA Gymnastics policies and programs to further protect the health and well-being of athletes. Steve was instrumental in commissioning the most comprehensive, thorough and independent evaluation of our bylaws, policies, procedures and practices related to handling sexual misconduct matters.”
The Involvement of US Olympic Committee
Despite all these efforts to clean their name, USA Gymnastics is, sad to say, way too deep into this case already. It has come to the point where two officials of US Olympic Committee started to say that Penny must resign so the national governing body can move forward in the midst of a sex abuse scandal. The two officials remained anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter.
That was just the beginning, because on Thursday, an attorney representing more than seventy women gymnasts who say a national team doctor sexually abused them called upon the USOC to decertify USA Gymnastics as the sport’s governing body. Said lawyer was named John Manly and his move came just as the USOC board of directors met in Los Angeles.
“The reasons for our request for the decertification of USA Gymnastics by the USOC are straightforward, clear and indeed required under federal law,” Manly said in a statement. “Without question, the serial rape and molestation of hundreds of girls, by coaches, trainers and other USA Gymnastics’ staff materially inhibits these women’s ability to participate in their sport and is discriminatory. If that is not enough to justify the decertification of USA Gymnastics, then what is?”
The USOC cannot fire Penny because only the board members of USA Gymnastics can do that, however, they hold great sway as the USOC is in charge of oversight and governance of all national governing bodies, where USA Gymnastics is included. If the USOC so stated that they want Penny to step down, it would give a great pressure for him to do so, for the good of the whole organization he is leading.
It is still too early to say what USOC’s move, as a whole organization, is going to be. But it is starting to look as if they are in pressure too to give their statements about this whole issue. Keep up with the latest news and updates about the sport of gymnastics by following our official blogs and social media sites. Enroll today at Bianka Panova Sport and Art Academy and learn gymnastics for kids with us! Come and experience world class training and education!