The U.S. Olympic Committee has taken the initial steps to revoke USA Gymnastics’ recognition as the national governing body for the sport in the United States following months of turmoil at the organization in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. In an open letter to the gymnastics community, USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland said the timing was right to initiate the process, which will involve a review panel making a recommendation to the USOC board of directors on the next course of action.
“Today is only the beginning of an important process for gymnastics in the United States,” Hirshland wrote. “The path is not crystal clear, but our motives are. So, we move forward, committed to ensuring the type of organization each gymnast and the coaches, trainers and club owners who support them, deserves.”
Under USOC bylaws, a review panel will be identified, hold a hearing and issue a report and recommendation to the USOC board. The board will then vote either to continue recognizing USA Gymnastics as the sport’s NGB or revoke its status to be replaced by a new organization.
The Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics has been under increasing fire to make reforms in the wake of the Nassar investigation and trial that has rocked the sport, as well as various lawsuits that have been filed by those abused by Nassar. The USOC earlier this year asked for the resignation of the group’s board of directors and its CEO, Kerry Perry. A new board has been installed but the NGB again faced criticism for hiring Mary Bono as interim CEO after a law firm she worked for had advised USAG during the Nassar episode. Bono stepped down less than a week after being hired.
“This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions,” 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. In the long-term, it will be the critically important responsibility of the recognized gymnastics NGB, whether the existing organization or a new one, to lead gymnastics in the United States and build on the supportive community of athletes and clubs that can carry the sport forward for decades to come. We are prepared to identify and help build such an organization.”
In a statement, the USA Gymnastics board said it was aware of the USOC’s move and was “evaluating the best path forward for our athletes, professional members, the organization and staff.”
“We want you to know, we will continue to serve the thousands of young athletes, coaches, club owners, judges and administrators who make up our organization,” the board wrote. “Our commitment will always be to ensure the health and safety of our members while they pursue their love of the sport. We know this continues to be a difficult time for our organization, and we are so appreciative of all that you do to support our gymnastics community.”
To read Hirshland’s open letter, click here.
To read the USA Gymnastics board response, click here.