Abuse culture in USA Gymnastics


Cassiana Pozzi, Editor-in-chief

Aly Raisman is a USA Gymnastics gold medalists, winning six medals in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics and claims the title of America’s second-most decorated female Olympic gymnast. But she is also a victim of sexual abuse. Larry Nassar has been an official doctor for USA Gymnastics for over 20 years, helping the girls with most medical needs. But that wasn’t the only thing he was doing. He had reportedly been manipulating the girls by buying them presents, offering massages, and being an overall friendly person to try and gain their trust. Because of this trust, Nassar was able to carry out his abuse all the while the girls just thought they were getting routine massages for back, leg, and shoulder problems.

Raisman wasn’t the only one to speak up. Back in October, McKayla Maroney also spoke out about the sexual abuse inflicted upon by Nassar as well. And since then over 100 athletes have filed lawsuits against Nassar and USA Gymnastics, because they did not do an adequate job protecting those girls. Raisman had been approached by a private investigator, hired by USA Gymnastics to address the complaints against Nassar, and at first Raisman made excuses for the doctor. She added that he did make her uncomfortable but blamed it on the fact that he was still a doctor and was a kind man who cared about her and the other athletes. Thinking back on her experiences, Raisman realized that what she had gone through really was sexual abuse and she wanted to contact the private investigator again. She was first told that the investigation was ongoing and then shortly after she received a text from an official asking her to stop talking about her experiences with Doctor Nassar, in order to not jeopardize the investigation.

“I still think they are not doing everything they can,” Raisman told the Today Show, “I kept reaching out saying I wanted to meet with [the private investigator] again, because I had time to process it, I realized it was really bad. I was basically told to keep it quiet, and that they were handling it. So they didn’t let me help. I want to help.”

Raisman now says she feels betrayed, by both Nassar, whom she had trusted as a doctor, and by USA Gymnastics, whom she had trusted to not put her in harm’s way. As for Nassra, he had pleaded guilty to child pornography charges back in July and is awaiting his sentencing in Michigan. He also pleaded not guilty to the charges of sexually abusing former patients, athletes and even a family friend. Nassar had resigned from USA Gymnastics back in the summer of 2015. Nassar’s attorney said that a gag order was in place so that his client was unable to makes comments about Raisman’s claims

USA Gymnastics submitted a statement saying, “We are appalled by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career. In the past year, Aly has become an advocate for many issues, and sharing her personal experience of abuse takes great courage. We are committed to doing what is right, and we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.” The organization has now adopted a Safe Sport Policy in order to prevent future instances of abuse.

Raisman states that she has not yet retired from gymnastics, and is hoping to attend her  third Olympics with the team in Tokyo, 2020. She hopes that her story, and those from the others who have also spoke up, will make a change in how USA Gymnastics addresses reports of sexual abuse so she, and others, can continue to love and play their sport.