Gymnastics Stars Call for Ouster of U.S. Olympic Directors

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Simone Biles, MacKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman are asking Congress to dissolve the board of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee

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Testified last month in the US Senate about the failed institutional response to the Nassar case. She has been embroiled in years of litigation against the USOPC, as well as USA Gymnastics, over her abuse by longtime women’s national team doctor Nassar.

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Sports organizations are moving toward a settlement of those lawsuits with a proposed $425 million settlement with hundreds of victims, but not all of their insurers have agreed to fund it. USA Gymnastics, USOPC and the insurer are next due to update a court where their talks take place on Monday.

Meanwhile, Congress will have the power to dissolve the board of sports national governing bodies like USA Gymnastics—or the USOPC—later this month, as part of a broader Olympic bill signed into law last year.

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“We make this request after years of patience, deliberation and a commitment to learning from our pain and making amateur sports safe for generations to come,” the gymnasts wrote. “We believe that the Board’s past actions demonstrate a reluctance to address the local problems that athletes like us have faced and a relentless refusal to pursue the true and necessary reform of the broken Olympic system. “

The USOPC did not immediately comment. Its current leaders, including Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland and Board Chair Susan Lyons, have often praised the “courage and leadership” of Nassar’s victims, saying they want to reach a resolution with them.

Biles, Maroney, Nichols and Raisman were some of the first elite gymnasts to be identified as potential victims of Nassar, and their testimony in mid-September provoked a furious backlash from US senators.

In a letter sent Wednesday asking senators to dissolve the USOPC board, the gymnasts cited the fact that US Olympic officials first heard of the allegations against Nassar in 2015, when USA Gymnastics learned of them.

Businesshala reported that in late July 2015, then-President of USA Gymnastics Steve Penney called then-U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun to reveal that an Olympic gymnast had been told that she was sexually assaulted by a team doctor. What is the amount and that they plan to report the matter to law enforcement.

Blackmun told Penny to “do what she has to do,” said a person familiar with the call, and did not give USA Gymnastics any further guidance on the matter in the coming months. Two months later, Penney emailed the USOC’s longtime chief security officer, Larry Beundorf, detailing Maroney, Nichols and Raisman’s allegations against Nassar, including a graphic description.

The gymnasts say the USOPC “took no investigative action after knowing Nassar was an abuser,” and continued to list him as an approved medical provider, even though it allowed him to quietly resign from USA Gymnastics. Went.

Nassar was publicly accused of sexual assault under the guise of medical treatment a year later, and was later sentenced to an effective life sentence in prison for sexual assault and child-pornography charges. He has been accused of abusing women and girls after United States Gymnastics was reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but those allegations were ignored by federal agents whose actions are now re-reported by the Justice Department. Being reviewed.

Penney resigned from USA Gymnastics in March 2017; Blackmun was renamed USOPC in February 2018.

The gymnasts say that some high-ranking USOPC officials who were active in 2015 and 2016 “remain in positions of influence and power in the USOPC and the USOPC Foundation”—including board members who agreed to a generous severance package for Blackmun. had agreed to.

He said Congress should be willing to lead the USOPC board and be able to do what it should have done a long time ago: responsibly investigate the systemic problem of sexual abuse within Olympic organizations—including the USOPC—and to hide all of it. Attempt.”

Write to Louise Radnofsky at [email protected]

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