Four elite gymnasts are calling on Congress to dissolve the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s board of directors, alleging the body fostered a culture of abuse and ignored serial sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor.
"We make this request after years of patience, deliberation, and unrequited commitment to learn from our suffering and make amateur sports safe for future generations," Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols, who all testified before Congress last month about what they say were failures in the FBI’s handling of the sexual abuse case, wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders Wednesday.
"We believe the Board’s past actions demonstrate an unwillingness to confront the epidemic problems with abuse that athletes like us have faced and a continued refusal to pursue true and necessary reform of the broken Olympic system," the letter continued. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols testify during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Larry Nassar investigation of sexual abuse in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15, 2021. (Pool/Reuters) Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to up to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct charges. The sentencing came after dozens of girls and women accused him of sexually abusing them.
"Since becoming aware of Nassar’s abuse, the USOPC’s top priority has been to hide culpability and avoid accountability," the athletes wrote in their letter, claiming the board "took no investigative action whatsoever after learning that Nassar was an abuser." FILE PHOTO: Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, stands in court during his sentencing hearing in the Eaton County Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., Feb. 5, 2018. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters) The athletes wrote that the "ecosystem" that gave shelter to the likes of Nasser "still exists," and they took aim at officials still in positions of power at USOPC and its foundation. They asked that Congress replace the board with one that will investigate "systemic" sexual abuse; otherwise, they said, "athletes will remain at risk."