U.S. Olympic Committee moves to revoke USA Gymnastics' status
The United States Olympic Committee is moving to revoke USA Gymnastics’ status as the committee’s governing body for gymnastics, according to a press release from Team USA.
USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in the release that the committee will work to ensure athletes are still supported to perform, but there are “no perfect solutions” in moving forward.
“In the long-term, it will be the critically important responsibility of the recognized gymnastics (national governing body), 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,” Hirshland said. “We are prepared to identify and help build such an organization.”
Last month, former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was arrested for tampering with evidence involving ex-MSU and USAG doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse. The evidence was from Nassar’s time spent at USAG’s Karolyi Ranch, a location cited by several survivors as the place they were assaulted.
USAG has faced severe criticism for its culture and its handling of Nassar’s abuse. Kerry Perry, who took on the CEO position after Penny resigned, faced similar disapproval as her predecessor. Survivors commented that no changes were being made, and Perry resigned after holding the position less than a year.
Nassar is serving a 60-year federal sentence on child pornography-related charges. Additional members of USAG have had legal action taken against them.
Debra Van Horn, an athletic trainer at Karolyi Ranch accused of witnessing and not reporting Nassar’s abuse, was arrested on one charge of second-degree sexual assault of a child this September.
The press release includes a letter from Hirshland to USAG gymnasts and the gymnastics community admitting that the organization has failed its membership. It said USAG has the option to voluntarily give up recognition as the national governing body for gymnastics, as steps to revoke recognition have already been taken.
The letter said the USOC has given up its trust in USAG after months of working to solve its issues, and is now moving to make radical change.
The process to revoke recognition of USAG, according to Hirshland: Identifying a review panel; holding a hearing; issuing a report; and making a recommendation.
The outcome could end with the USOC continuing to recognize USAG, or with a complete overhaul of the organization.
Hirshland said USOC will “ensure support” for athletes heading to Tokyo 2020, but the committee has not yet communicated short-term or long-term plans to clubs and gymnasts.
Hirshland’s letter ends by thanking the gymnastics community for their support, and encourages those involved to send ideas and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.