Gymnastics champ Aly Raisman rips Olympic Committee over Larry Nassar abuse scandal

Raisman at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, Jan 19, 2018.
Raisman at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, Jan 19, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO (AFP) - Six-time Olympic medal winner Aly Raisman, among dozens of American gymnasts who have testified they were abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar, has ripped the US Olympic Committee saying it had "failed" the young athletes and must be held accountable.

As Nassar continued to face his accusers on Tuesday (Jan 23) on the sixth day of a sentencing hearing in Michigan, Raisman addressed the resignation a day earlier of three top executives from the USA Gymnastics board of directors, as well as comments from USOC president Scott Blackmun.

"The USOC released a statement shamelessly taking credit for a few USAG resignations (note: not fired) as though they're addressing the problem," tweeted Raisman, renewing her calls for an independent investigation into USA Gymnastics.

"They are still not acknowledging its own role in this mess. ZERO accountability! It's like none of us were ever abused!"

Raisman hit out in particular at Blackmun's comment that "USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors" - as too little, too late.

"Was the USOC there to 'focus on the brave survivors'? No," she wrote. "Did they issue any statement then? Crickets." Chairman Paul Parilla, vice-chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley stepped down from the USA Gymnastics board of directors after stinging criticism of how the governing body handled the case by Nassar's accusers, who include Rio Olympic superstar Simone Biles.

Blackmun's statement said the USOC had been in talks with USA Gymnastics pushing for change since last October.

'DANGEROUS TO ATHLETES'

Nassar, 54, has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct and faces life in prison. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges.

Raisman, who won Olympic team gold in 2012 and 2016 and the 2012 floor exercise crown, noted that the first allegations against Nassar came ahead of the Rio Olympics.

"Survivors courageously came forward sharing stories of sexual abuse and alleging organizational mishandling," Raisman wrote.

"The next day, the USOC said they wouldn't investigate (and even praised USAG's work in the area of sexual abuse).

"For the past week, survivors came forward to courageously face a perpetrator of evil and to share their painful stories. Many of them, myself included, claim the USOC is also at fault."

Blackmun closed by saying: "The Olympic family failed these athletes and we must continue to take every step necessary to ensure this never happens again."

Raisman said the executive exits should be just the beginning of major changes at USA Gymnastics - without which more gymnasts would remain at risk.

"Why just those three board members? How about the others, who either allowed them to do whatever they did wrong, or were so oblivious they didn't know it was happening?

"Either way, these - and any other changes - won't matter until we know exactly what happened. Suggesting otherwise is dangerous to athletes.

"INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION! What's it going to take for you to do the right thing?"