Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Olympics, has joined a list of high-profile gymnasts — including six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman, 2012 all-around champion Gabby Douglas, and two-time medalist McKayla Maroney — who have accused Larry Nassar of sexual misconduct.
Biles released a statement via Twitter outlining that abuse.
Nassar, who spent more than two decades as a physician at USA Gymnastics while also working at Michigan State University, has admitted sexually assaulting gymnasts, possessing child pornography and molesting girls who sought medical treatment. He was sentenced in December to 60 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography and is facing another 40 to 125 years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting seven girls.
Biles called Nassar’s behavior ‘‘completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially from someone whom I was told to trust.’’
Like her Olympic teammates, Biles detailed abuse by Nassar that he disguised as treatment.
‘‘It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the ‘special’ treatment,’’ Biles wrote.
Added Biles: ‘‘It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused.”
Biles says she initially wondered if she was to blame.
‘‘For too long I've asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it may fault?'’’ Biles wrote. ‘‘I now know the answer to those questions. No. No. It was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others.’’
Raisman, a Needham native, offered support for her teammate.
“An investigation must be done . . . I am sick over this,” Raisman tweeted. “We must get to the bottom of how this disaster happened.”
I am so proud of you. You are incredible Simone. I stand with you. I am shaking reading your post. I know we will all get through this together. https://t.co/Ziec5Fkhwv— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) January 15, 2018
USA Gymnastics said in a statement it is ‘‘heartbroken, sorry and angry’’ that Biles and other athletes were harmed by Nassar.
‘‘USA Gymnastics’ support is unwavering for Simone and all athletes who courageously came forward to share their experiences,’’ the organization said in a release. ‘‘We are our athletes’ advocates. USA Gymnastics will continue to listen to our athletes and our members in our efforts of creating a culture of empowerment with a relentless focus on athlete safety every single day.’’
The organization hired Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport last summer. Part of Stark’s mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs, and reporting. The federation also adopted over 70 recommendations by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw an independent review.
Biles wants USA Gymnastics to take a deeper look at the conditions that allowed Nassar’s behavior to run unchecked for so long.
‘‘We need to know why this was able to take place for so long and to so many of us,’’ Biles said. ‘‘We need to make sure something like this never happens again.’’
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