The USA Gymnastics team is the reigning world Olympic champion team. Their legacy has stood the test of time, and the people who have helped many of these girls reach their Olympic dreams have always been praised and held to a high regard.
But once news broke in July 2017 that a former team doctor was charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the whole gymnastics board was in hot water.
Larry Nassar, the well-known sports physician, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after more than 150 women and girls came forward that Nassar sexually abused them over the past two decades.
The 54-year-old disgraced doctor pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct for using his position as a doctor to assault and molest female gymnasts.
"There are no words that can describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred," Nassar said in court. "An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write and convey. I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days."
Amid Nassar's fallout, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) gave the USA Gymnastics an ultimatum, and if their reforms are not met, there could be some serious repercussions that will affect the entire team...
On January 31, USA Gymnastics received resignations from all of the members of its Board of Directors, as demanded by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
If the ultimatum wasn't met, the body would have lost its national certification.
"USA Gymnastics embraces not only the changes necessary as called for by the USOC and the Deborah Daniels report, but we also will hold the organization to the highest standards of care and safety in further developing a culture of empowerment for our athletes and members," the team said in a statement on their website.
The USOC required the team to have an interim board in place by February 12, and a full replacement within a year. They're also asked to increase transparency, provide regular progress reports, and increase staff training.
“USA Gymnastics completely embraces the requirements outlined in the Jan. 25, 2018 letter from the United States Olympic Committee and appreciates the opportunity to work with the USOC to accomplish change for the betterment of our organization, our athletes and our clubs,” USAG wrote in a statement posted on its website. “We understand that the requirements imposed by the letter will help us enhance our ability to build a culture of empowerment throughout the organization, with an increased focus on athlete safety and well-being. Our commitment is uncompromising, and we hope everything we do makes this very clear.”
In addition, USOC is asking the team to cooperate with independent investigations into the allegations against Nassar during his time working with the team. They hope to find out who knew and who should've known about Nassar's sexual abuse, and failed to report the allegations.
“Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs fundamental rebuilding,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wrote to the board. “This was the overarching finding in the Daniels report and it was demonstrated again in the recent testimony of Nassar’s victims.”
What happened to those girls is awful, but hopefully these reforms will make sure nothing like that happens again.