Warning: this article pertains to sexual abuse and may be upsetting to some readers
Simone Biles, who is arguably the greatest gymnast of all time and certainly the sport’s biggest star of the 21st Century, recently said that she would not put her own daughter in USA Gymnastics which she says “100 percent” failed her and other gymnasts who were abused by a team doctor for years.
“I don’t feel comfortable enough because they haven’t taken accountability for their actions and what they’ve done,” the athlete told 60 Minutes reporter Sharyn Alfonsi in an interview which aired on Sunday, as reported by Yahoo News.
“And they haven’t ensured us that it’s never going to happen again,” she added.
Osteopath Dr. Larry Nassar, who served as a physician for USA Gymnastics, was sentenced in 2018 to as many as 175 years in prison for his abuse of 10 girls, all of whom were underage at the time including three who were under 13. All but one of the victims were abused during medical appointments.
Nassar, who was made USA Gymnastics’ team physician in 1997, was tasked with providing the young athletes with what is called osteopathic manipulation, in which the practitioner moves the patient’s muscles and joints with their hands.
He used his position as a medical doctor to violate these young athletes by penetrating them, without gloves, during medical appointments.
Some of the victims said he appeared to be sexually aroused as he treated them.
In 2017, in a separate federal case, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years on charges of child pornography. Investigators said he had at least 37,000 explicit images of children.
Although Nassar is locked up and cannot abuse anyone else anymore, Biles says that USA Gymnastics still has much to answer for.
“Oh, it’s far from over,” she told 60 Minutes. “There’s still a lot of questions that still need to be answered.”
“Just who knew what, when? You guys have failed so many athletes. And most of us underage. You guys don’t think that’s a bigger problem? Like, if that were me and I knew something I’d want it resolved immediately.”
Biles believes an independent investigation should be conducted to ensure that this never happens to athletes again.
Nassar’s behavior never should have gone on as long as it did. Young athletes often face immense pressure to perform, and girls as young as elite gymnasts typically are (most medalists are teenagers, Yahoo noted) do not always understand that they can challenge authority.
The adults charged with training and protecting these young women failed, severely. We applaud Biles for using her immense fame to shed light on the organization’s failure to protect its athletes.
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