PtG Article 06.11.2018

US Gymnastics face possible dismantlement

Following revelations of sexual abuse scandals in US Gymnastics, the US Olympic committee has now taken the first steps towards revoking the federation.

The US Olympic Committee has begun the process of stripping USA Gymnastics (USAG) of its status as national governing body of the sport.

This is the message in an open letter to US gymnasts from Sarah Hirshland, CEO of USOC, issued on 5 Nov.

“United States Olympic Committee has taken the first steps to revoke USA Gymnastics’ recognition as the National Governing Body for gymnastics in the United States and offered USA Gymnastics the option of surrendering its recognition voluntarily,” the letter reads.

USAG has been struggling to recover after the surfacing of a large number of sexual abuse allegations committed against athletes by coaches and other staff engaged in gymnastics programmes across the country. Most notably those involving former national team doctor, Larry Nassar, who was accused of having abused more than 250 young people including athletes. Earlier this year, Nassar pleaded guilty to ten of the cases and is currently serving time in prison.  

Critics have argued that the governing body has not done sufficiently to address cases that have been flagged and that a culture of silence has been encouraged within the governing body.

While acknowledging that USAG has put in efforts to shape up, Hirshland believes that the challenges are too hard to overcome for the national governing body (NGB) in its current shape.

 “…We have worked closely with the new USAG board over recent months to support them, but despite diligent effort, the NGB continues to struggle. And that’s not fair to gymnasts around the country. Even weeks ago, I hoped there was a different way forward. But we now believe that is no longer possible,” she writes in the letter.

The process now initiated by USOC involves a hearing panel, a subsequent report and recommendation to the USOC board followed by a final decision as to the future of US Gymnastics.

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