The United States national Olympic committee announced on Monday that it will revoke USA Gymnastics status as the sport’s national governing body. After years of complaints over how USA Gymnastics has handled sexual assault complaints, The New York Times reports that the national committee will remove the organizations authority and take over operations for the time being.
“This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions,” USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said in a statement. “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 USAG gymnasts have the support necessary to excel on and off the field of play. We are building plans to do just that.”
Hirshland also wrote in an open letter to gymnasts across the United States that “you deserve better.”
US Olympic Cmte. CEO’s letter “to all USAG gymnasts and the gymnastics community in the United States.” pic.twitter.com/1MfXoG8NHx
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 5, 2018
“You might be asking why now? The short answer is that we believer the challenges facing the organization are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form,” she wrote. “We have worked closely with the new USAG board over recent months to support them, but despite diligent effort, the NGB continues to struggle. And that’s not fair to gymnasts around the country. Even weeks ago, I hoped there was a different way forward. But we now believe that is no longer possible.”
It’s unclear how the USOC will manage operations.The process for decertification is lengthy and often regarded as the “nuclear option”. According to The New York Times, USOC would have create a review board, hold several hearings, have a report issued, and then the board would have a final vote. This basically means no outcome is guaranteed.
According to AP News, USA gymnastics issued a statement later saying it was looking at the committees letter and “evaluating the best path forward for our athletes, professional members, the organization and staff.”
Motion to make Aly Raisman the CEO, Queen, and Lord Protector of USA Gymnastics. https://t.co/n2wulEv6ts
— Lily Herman (@lkherman) November 5, 2018
The current governing body has faced harsh criticism for how it has handled sexual assault complaints, including hundreds against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. USA Gymnastics has also struggled to find new leadership. According to CNN, Kerry Perry was appointed as chief executive, but quickly forced out after she chose elite coach and gym owner Mary Lee Tracy to a high-up development position. Tracy previously defended Larry Nassar.
Former congresswoman Mary Bono was appointed interim chief executive last month, but she resign four days later. Bono was associated with the law firm that advised USA Gymnastic during the Nassar scandal.
Even the USOC has faced criticism for not responding quickly to the sexual assault cases. The decision to decertify USA Gymnastic was praised by gymnast Rachel Denhollander, who first came forward with Nassar’s years of abuse.
THANK YOU. After overseeing the abuse of 100’s of children by Larry, national coaches and club coaches, it is high time for this organization to end and a new one, truly dedicated to athlete safety, to begin. A COMPLETE regimen change should start now. This is for every survivor. https://t.co/EpEbYPfth8
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) November 5, 2018
Others thought it was simply a ploy. “Today’s announcement by USOC seeks only to deflect from their total failure over decades to protect the gymnasts in their care,” said Michelle Simpson Tuegel and Mo Aziz, who were Olympian Tasha and Jordan Schwikert lawyers against USA Gymnastics and USOC, to AP News.
It’s unclear how the USOC’s decision will affect gymnasts or what will happen with USA Gymnastics in the upcoming months. Hirshland wrote that the committee will ensure that every gymnast, coach, trainer and club owner gets the organization they deserve.