USA Gymnastics addressed the victims of sexual abuse in their organization on Tuesday in an open letter.
The sport’s national governing body in the U.S. acknowledged the bruising report from an Indianapolis Star investigation that revealed former team doctor Larry Nassar molested dozens of young athletes dating all the way back to 1997. More than 100 women have come forward with allegations and horrifying story of Nassar abusing them.
Tuesday’s reports detailed how the organization plans to improve the problem instead of recalling the past abuse. Lead author Deborah Daniels says the number of abuse victims is “surely far higher” than authorities know, “given the understandable reticence of those who have suffered abuse to come forward.”
“USA Gymnastics is very sorry that anyone has been harmed during his or her gymnastics career, and we offer our deepest regrets to any athlete who suffered abuse or mistreatment while participating in the sport,” the letter, signed by the board of directors, reads. “By working together, we can move the sport forward to better prevent the opportunity for abuse to occur.”
Daniels, a former federal prosecutor, identified 70 recommendations across ten key areas. Some of her recommendations include:
- Adult members are prohibited from being alone with minor gymnasts at all times.
- Unrelated adults are prohibited from sharing or being alone in a sleeping room with gymnasts.
- Adult members are prohibited from having out-of-program contact with gymnasts via email, text or social media.
- New requirements are in place regarding physical contact between adults and gymnasts.
She also proposed a more efficient way of reporting and reviewing allegations of abuse as well as suggested a third party be involved.
“We have a lot of important work ahead of us,” the letter concedes, “but we will be a stronger and better organization by committing to meaningful change.”
“Success in competition is important, but not at the expense of an athlete’s health and safety. We are determined to do better. Going forward, we will continue to examine our culture and governance, listen to the community, and refine and improve to make our sport as safe as we can.”