The #MeToo movement should have been sparked by U.S.A. Gymnastics over a year ago after 140 women accused former team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault. Vox reported that Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison due to child pornography charges in December 2017, with further sentencing coming in the week of Jan. 22. Nassar’s abuse of athletes — and the lack of accountability from U.S.A. Gymnastics after this outcry — represents a failing on the part of the U.S.A.G. and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Nassar attended the 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2012 Olympic games to work for the United States Olympic Committee until 2015. His accusers include Olympians Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney. However, as the Huffington Post described, most of Nassar’s victims were not Olympians. All were female athletes, left vulnerable by a system that placed them in the care of a wildly abusive man. Many were under the age of 18 at the time of their assaults.
Yet despite the abuse suffered by gold medal winning gymnasts, U.S.A. Gymnastics is still running as if Nassar’s abuse had not occured. The New York Times reported that while the U.S. Olympic Committee has historically removed powers from sports-specific governing bodies after mishaps, it has done nothing to U.S.A.G.
U.S.A.G. has failed its athletes fundamentally. The Nassar sex scandal is even larger than the Penn State sex abuse scandal that brought down coach Joe Paterno and yet U.S.O.C. is disinclined to intervene. Raisman, Douglas and Biles are all gold medal-winning athletes who shattered records and brought awards to the U.S. Olympic Team.
The Rolling Stone reported that Raisman has called out U.S.A.G. officials for failing to protect her from Nassar. The U.S.A.G. did not respond to sexual assault allegations against Nassar years ago, and according to Raisman, insisted that doctor’s appointments were mandatory. This left athletes entirely at the mercy of Nassar, lest they forego their Olympic training.
Raisman said, “For this sport to go on, we need to demand real change, and we need to be willing to fight for it.” She went on to say that she does not trust the U.S.O.C. and U.S.A. Gymnastics to make the changes necessary after years of Nassar abusing athletes.
Raisman also stated that U.S.A.G. and U.S.O.C. have not reached out to the athletes who accused Nassar, neither to apologize nor seek penance.
Raisman is not the only gymnast to have damned the U.S.O.C. and U.S.A.G. Jordan Wieber, who competed at the 2012 Olympic games, said at Nassar’s trial, “Nobody was protecting us from being taken advantage of.”
Raisman and Wieber are right. The U.S.O.C. and the U.S.A.G. failed its athletes at the most fundamental of levels, and yet these governing bodies seem to have no interest in making changes. Why should any Olympic athletes trust the U.S.O.C. when they don’t care for their athletes?
On Jan. 22, the New York Times reported that three members of the U.S.A. Gymnastics board have resigned in response to the Nassar allegations. The rest of them should follow suit.
To regain its athletes’ trust, the U.S.O.C. has to listen to them. It cannot put blind trust in the U.S.A.G. after it allowed Nassar access to young female athletes until 2015. The Olympic committee has profited off of the medal-winning Olympic athletes, but does not seem to care for them now. We should.
Time’s Up for the Olympics, too.