In a startling report from the Indianapolis Star Tribune, at least 368 gymnasts have been found to have come forward with allegations against the USA Gymnastics organization. The paper essentially accuses USA Gymnastics of not taking action against coaches and gym owners who had been reported as sexually and/or abusive. This is the paper's second report on the subject, following a comprehensive expose in August.
At least 115 adults “at every level of the sport” have been accused of a wide range of abuses, with overseeing organizations doing little to nothing to stop the alleged abusers. For example, notes Teen Vogue: "USA Gymnastics doesn’t keep track of firings, making it somewhat easy for coaches accused of abuse to move from gym to gym." Similarly: "Athletes also reported that they felt pressured by USA Gymnastics and its CEO, Steve Penny, to keep quiet, and that the organization made efforts to keep abuse claims secret."
A statment from USA Gymnastics supposedly addresses these concerns: “Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics, the Board of Directors and CEO Steve Penny than protecting athletes, which requires sustained vigilance by everyone — coaches, athletes, parents, administrators and officials. We are saddened when any athlete has been harmed in the course of his or her gymnastics career ... [We] find it appalling that anyone would exploit a young athlete or child in this manner, and recognize the effect this behavior can have on a person’s life.”
At least one former gymnast, Charmaine Carnes, sees the logic behind the organization's lack of action: “You can’t win championships,” she said, “if you’re busting all your best coaches.”
Following the paper's August report, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced it was not planning to investigate USA Gymnastics. Perhaps that will change now.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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