Tuesday, March 19, 2019
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USOC begins the process of revoking the status of USA Gymnastics as a national governing body



USA Gymnastics requires a major overhaul because nothing else worked. USA TODAY Sports & Nancy Armor explains how they got here.

The United States Olympic Committee has taken the first steps to relieve USA Gymnastics of its recognition as a national sports executive body.

In a letter to gymnasts on Monday, US President Sarah Hirshland said that USA Gymnastics had difficulty "changing their culture, rebuilding their leadership, and effectively serving their membership."

Explaining why the USOC is now acting, Hirshland wrote, "The short answer is: We believe that the challenges that the organization faces are simply more than it can overcome in its present form Working closely with the new USAG board months to back them up, but despite hard-working efforts, the NGBs continue to fight, which is not fair to Turner across the country, I was hoping weeks ago that there would be another way Now believe that this is no longer possible. "

The news comes three weeks after Mary Bono abruptly resigned as US Gymnastics interim CEO under pressure from the USOC. Last week, despite the turmoil within her leadership, the women's team won the gold medal at the Qatar World Championships, and Simone Biles won six medals, including a record fourth all-round gold.

The bono debacle was the latest leadership change in an organization that was still struggling after the Larry Nassar scandal. Nassar, a former US gymnastics doctor and a Michigan State University doctor, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to child pornography and state sexual assault charges.

Among the more than 350 women claiming that Nassar abused her were Olympic champions Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber, Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian.

USA Gymnastics released a statement Monday stating that its board sits in June and "inherited an organization in crisis". The board has taken steps to change leadership and is looking for a CEO who can "rebuild the organization and, above all, regain the confidence of the gymnastics community," the statement said.

The USOC action Monday triggers a trial that includes a hearing in front of a three-person panel. The USOC will elect the body chaired by a member of the USOC board consisting of a representative of the NGB Council and the Athlete Advisory Council. USA Gymnastics will have the opportunity to present "substantive evidence and legal arguments on the allegations of the complaint" at the hearing, according to the USOC statute.

Subsequently, the Hearing Panel will provide the USOC Board with a report detailing what action needs to be taken. Hirshland can also submit a report to the board. After reviewing the reports and recommendations, the USOC Board will make a final decision.

The USOC Constitution does not set timelines for the process.

It is known that the USOC has only revoked the recognition of a NGB three times – with taekwondo, team handball and modern pentathlon.

In January, the USOC wrote to USA Gymnastics to determine the requirements for changes needed to lose or risk recognition as a NGB for the sport.

Including the removal of the entire USA Gymnastics Board that the organization was in, as well as the collaboration with a research by Ropes & Gray. The Boston-based law firm is investigating whether anyone at USA Gymnastics knew about complaints from athletes about the abuse of Nassar and did not report them, as well as systematic failures that would have left it unchecked for so long.

Despite these USOC defaults, USA Gymnastics has since repeatedly failed.

In August, USA Gymnastics hired Mary Lee Tracy to co-ordinate elite development, despite publicly defending Nassar after more than 50 women allegedly abused him. Three days after the announcement, the organization asked Tracy to resign after she contacted Raisman.

Days later, Kerry Perry was forced to act as CEO after Hirshland issued a statement saying it was time to consider making adjustments to the leadership.

During Perry's tenure at the organization, USA Gymnastics lost all major sponsors. The national championships in August were held without a title sponsor, which was almost unknown to any of the Olympic sports in the United States.

Last month, USA Gymnastics announced the hiring of Bono, a former congressman, as interim CEO. But Bono resigned five days later after Biles and other gymnasts questioned the tweets, asking if Bono would be able to take the lead and send the message to Nassar abused women.

Biles, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, criticized a tweet from Bono containing a photo of Bono blackening the Nike logo on their golf shoes, which was apparently a criticism of Nike's proposed deal with Colin Kaepernick.

Bono previously worked in the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. The Indianapolis Star The company reported that the company worked with US gymnasts to provide "false excuses" for Nassar's absence at major gymnastics events in 2015, rather than informing parents and gymnasts that he was being investigated for sexual abuse of children.

Bono was not affiliated with the office of Faegre Baker Daniels, who worked with USA Gymnastics or the law firm. She had worked on legislative strategies and guidelines for Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting.

The USOC previously urged the overthrow of former CEO Steve Penny, who left the organization in March 2017 after the Nassar scandal.

Penny was charged in September in Walker County, Texas, for manipulating evidence, a third-degree crime, and being detained in Tennessee last month. He was not guilty.

In a statement from the congress, Rhonda Faehn, the former head of the women's program, said Penny ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi ranch.

Despite the changes in leadership, USA Gymnastics continues to employ Ron Galimore as Chief Operating Officer.

Galimore is the only person from USA Gymnastics of six who received an email from Penny on July 21, 2015.

In May, IndyStar, Part of the USA TODAY Network, reported that Galimore had been involved in coordinated efforts by Nassar and USA Gymnastics to conceal his dismissal by the Association. In the emails received from IndyStarFitzre Baker Daniels' lawyer, Scott D. Himsel, told Nassar that Galimore would explain Nassar's absence for the US and national championships to medical staff on the basis of their agreed stories.


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