Gymnast Simone Biles broke down in tears on Wednesday while discussing USA Gymnastics’ failure to protect its athletes from former trainer and convicted pedophile Larry Nassar.
“It’s hard coming here for an organization and having had them fail us so many times,” the five-time Olympic medalist said on Wednesday as she warmed up for the U.S. championships in Kansas City.
“We’ve done everything that they’ve asked us to even when we didn’t want to. And they couldn’t do one damn job,” Biles, 22, said while tearing up. “You had one job. You literally had one job and you couldn’t protect us.”
Biles’ emotional comments were in reaction to a congressional report published last week which found that USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee and the FBI “fundamentally failed” to protect athletes from Nassar’s abuse.
The star athlete came forward in January 2018 with allegations of sexual abuse against Nassar, who is currently serving a life sentence on child pornography and child sex abuse charges. Nassar is accused of serially sexually abusing over 500 athletes during his tenures with Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. Additional Olympians abused by Nassar include Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney.
“It’s just really sad because now every time I go to the doctor or training, I get worked on ― I don’t want to get worked on, but my body hurts,” Biles continued. “It’s just hard and we try to work through it, but it’ll take some time. I’m strong, I’ll get through it. But it’s hard.”
USA Gymnastics President and CEO Li Li Leung responded to Biles’ remarks in an emailed statement to HuffPost.
“We at USA Gymnastics have made a lot of progress in strengthening our athlete safety measures and putting our athletes first, but we know we have more to do,” she said. “One of our goals is for our athletes to feel comfortable in speaking up and sharing their opinions, and we are listening to what they have to say. We will continue to work hard to demonstrate to Simone and all of our athletes, members, community and fans that we are working to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athlete voices are heard.”
In response to the damning congressional report, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) proposed legislation that aims to protect Olympic and amateur athletes. The Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act is a bipartisan effort to give Congress more oversight and control over governing organizations in Olympic sports, such as the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics.
This article has been updated to include a comment from USA Gymnastics President Li Li Leung.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
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