Sex abuse scandals haunt USA Gymnastics even at the Olympics

TOKYO – Ten years ago Tokyo hosted another major international gymnastics competition, the 2011 World Championships.

Those Worlds would launch a decade of American dominance unprecedented in the sport; an era where Team USA has won all seven Olympic or World all-around team titles available between 2011 and 2019, all but one of the individual all-around crowns during that period, 32 of 52 individual Olympic and World individual gold medals, and witnessed the emergence of a once in a lifetime talent, Simone Biles.

But the members of that 2011 Worlds team, four of whom would be part of the record shattering Olympic gold medal winning squad a year later in London, are torn when looking back on that groundbreaking week in Japan, a golden shine covering tortured memories and deep scars.

McKayla Maroney had been battling injuries in the weeks leading up to the 2011 Worlds. Longtime Team USA physician Larry Nassar gave her a sleeping pill on the flight to Japan. Maroney was still groggy by the time reached their hotel.

“And the next thing I know I was all alone with him in his room getting a ‘treatment,’” Maroney recalled in a court filing.

Nassar sexually assaulted her.

“I thought I was going to die that night,” Maroney said.

The nightmare of Tokyo and similar incidents at U.S. Olympic and national team training camps at the Karolyi Ranch, at the Olympic Games in Sydney and London, the horror Nassar inflicted on a generation of young women, more than 500 and counting, has been exposed over the last five years.

U.S. gymnasts,from left, Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross raise their hands on the podium during a medal ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) 

But as the Olympic women’s team competition opens this weekend at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body, has yet to fully answer to what extent the organization and its top officials ignored or covered up the predatory and abusive behavior of Nassar and several Olympic team coaches. USA Gymnastics has also still failed, Olympic and national team members and their supporters argue, to take any effective steps to end the culture of abuse that enabled Nassar and others to prey upon young gymnasts.

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“They continue to fail us,” Maggie Nichols, a member of the 2015 World champion team, said, referring to USA Gymnastics. Nichols in June 2015 became the first athlete to inform USA Gymnastics officials that she had been sexually abused by Nassar. “It’s been six years and there’s really been no progress, just attorneys doing the wrong thing getting paid a lot of money.”

Indeed many former Olympians and national team members believe American gymnastics as it is currently structured is so dysfunctional, so tone-deaf that it is broken beyond repair.

“You can’t build on a foundation that doesn’t exist,” said Kathy Johnson Clarke, a two-time Olympic medalist and member of the iconic 1984 Olympic team that triggered the growth of gymnastics in this country that laid …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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