Top gymnastics board members resign in wake of abuse case
Three top board members of USA Gymnastics resigned and the man who coached the 2012 Olympic team was suspended Monday, after calls from angry gymnasts who say the organization did nothing to protect them after they were abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar.
Chairman Paul Parilla, vice chair Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley announced they were stepping down as testimony in Nassar’s sentencing hearing in Michigan moved into its second week. Nassar faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in a molestation case.
Later Monday, USA Gymnastics suspended the coach of the 2012 Olympics team, John Geddert, who worked with Nassar at his gyms in Michigan.
A number of Olympians have been among those testifying in the Nassar hearing. Many have also sued the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics and called for the sports leaders to leave their jobs.
USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was forced out last year.
A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that USOC CEO Scott Blackmun met with Parilla earlier this month and asked for his resignation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue publicly.
In a statement, Blackmun said the USOC has been discussing changes with leaders at USA Gymnastics since October.
“Those discussions accelerated over the holidays and today you have seen three board resignations,” Blackmun said. “New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong. USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors.”
The new CEO, Kerry Perry, said USA Gymnastics supported the resignations.
“We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” she said.
Last week, USA Gymnastics said it would no longer hold training camps at the Karolyi ranch in Texas, where a number of gymnasts said Nassar abused them. That announcement only came after Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles complained that USA Gymnastics hadn’t moved to find a different training locale.
Another member of the 2016 team, Aly Raisman , gave some of the most compelling testimony last week.
“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change,” she said. “But how are we to believe in change when these organizations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem?”