One day after Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing at least 150 women and girls over a period of decades, the CEO of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) delivered an ultimatum to USA Gymnastics (USAG), one of the organizations that enabled Nassar’s abuse for years.
In a letter on Thursday, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun outlined his six demands for USAG, the country’s governing body for the sport. Item number one: every single member of USAG’s board must resign by the end of the month. If they refuse, USA Gymnastics will be decertified, stripping it of all governing authority in the sport of gymnastics.
“Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs fundamental rebuilding,” Blackmun writes. “This was the overarching finding in the Daniels report and it was demonstrated again in the recent testimony of Nassar’s victims. Every athlete connected in any way with USAG must feel safe, supported, and encouraged to speak freely about threats to their safety.”
In addition to the resignations, all current staff at USAG must complete the SafeSport training program administered by the U.S. Center for Safe Sport within three months, as well as a comprehensive ethics training program within six months. USAG must also fully cooperate with an independent investigation into who knew what information and when, pertaining to the Nassar case.
In response to USOC’s letter, USAG posted a statement on its website acknowledging its plan to comply with USOC’s demands.
“USA Gymnastics completely embraces the requirements outlined in the Jan. 25, 2017 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,” the statement reads.
USOC’s demand comes a week after several officials at USA Gymnastics preemptively tendered their resignations. The USAG board’s top three officials — Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder, and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley — stepped down on January 21, followed in short order by officials at Nassar’s other employer Michigan State University, including president Lou Ann Simon on Thursday.
During a week of testimonies from more than 150 of Nassar’s victims, numerous gymnasts — many of whom represented the United States at the Olympics and other international events — called on USAG to be investigated for their failure to protect the young girls in their care. Several, including 2016 gold medal Olympian Aly Raisman, have suggested USAG be completely disbanded and replaced by an entirely new organization to train the next generation of American gymnasts.