Six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman fiercely spoke out against USA Gymnastics for what she believes is a failure to address a major sexual abuse scandal.
“I feel like there’s a lot of articles about it, but nobody has said, ‘This is horrible, this is what we’re doing to change,’” Raisman told the Associated Press.
Former national team doctor Larry Nassar, who served in the position for 29 years, is at the center of the scandal. He’s being sued by more than 125 women who allege he sexually assaulted them when he was supposed to be treating them. Nassar is already in prison on child pornography charges and still faces criminal sexual conduct charges.
USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar and reporting by the Indianapolis Star that highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of its more than 3,500 clubs across the country.
Raisman, who most recently won gold in Rio at the 2016 Olympics, is calling for major change.
”Everyone is important. It doesn’t matter if you’re the Olympic champion or you’re an 8-year-old that goes to gymnastics in Ohio, or wherever you are in the U.S. Every single kid is important and I want USA Gymnastics to do a better job with that,” the 23-year-old said.
”What people don’t realize is that this doctor was a doctor for 29 years. Whether or not he did it to a gymnast, they still knew him. Even if he didn’t do it to you, it’s still the trauma and the anxiety of wondering what could have happened. I think that needs to be addressed. These girls, they should be comfortable going to USA Gymnastics and saying: ‘I need help, I want therapy. I need this.”’
USA Gymnastics was quick to respond to Raisman’s criticism, saying the organization is “taking the issue head-on” and wants to work with Raisman on athlete safety.
Raisman spoke out after she and the “Fierce Five” were inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame on Saturday.