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USOC Takes Steps to Revoke Membership of Scandal-Hit USA Gymnastics

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A competitor warming up at the 2016 United States women’s gymnastics Olympic trials. Photo: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

By Dan Palmer |

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has taken steps to revoke the scandal-hit USA Gymnastics’ recognition as the member national governing body for the sport.

It follows the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal which has rocked sport in the country.

In an open letter to athletes, USOC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said “the challenges facing the organization are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form.”

USOC has initiated a complaint against USA Gymnastics under section eight of its bylaws.

A review panel will now be identified and a hearing will be held.

This will lead to the issuing of a report and a recommendation will be made.

The USOC board will then vote to continue to recognize USA Gymnastics, or revoke that status.

“This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions,” said Hirshland.

“Seeking to revoke recognition is not a conclusion that we have come to easily.

“In the short-term, we have to work to ensure that USA Gymnastics gymnasts have the support necessary to excel on and off the field of play.

“We are building plans to do just that.

“In the long-term, it will be the critically important responsibility of the recognised 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.

“We are prepared to identify and help build such an organization.”

Dozens of women, including Olympic athletes, accused Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, of abuse.

He carried out his attacks under the guise of medical treatment and is currently serving a jail term of up to 175 years.

The crisis has led to fierce criticism of both USA Gymnastics and the USOC over what they knew and when and whether they could have prevented the abuse.

A series of controversies have occurred in the aftermath.

In October, Mary Bono stepped down as USA Gymnastics’ interim President and chief executive just four days after taking up the role.

A tweet she posted in September but has since deleted showed her blacking out the Nike logo on a pair of golf shoes before playing in a charity event, in an apparent dig at the sport giant’s support of American football player Colin Kaepernick, who prompted widespread debate by kneeling during the national anthem.

Critics of Kaepernick said his actions were disrespectful to military personnel who have died for the country.

But Kaepernick, who appeared in a Nike advert, said he was trying to highlight what he sees as institutionalized racism against African Americans.

Four-time Olympic champion Simone Biles was among the critics of Bono who was also revealed to have worked for law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, which represented USA Gymnastics and Nassar.

Bono replaced Kerry Perry who also resigned over criticism of her handling of the Nassar case.

In September, Mary Lee Tracy was appointed as elite development coordinator for the women’s programme but soon left after claims she had “supported Larry Nassar and victim-shamed survivors.”

Former USA Gymnastics President and chief executive Steve Penny has also pleaded not guilty to interfering with evidence relating to the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, with proceedings ongoing.

Hirshland was only appointed to her role in June.

Her open letter to athletes can be seen here.

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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