Incoming U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland’s first meeting with outspoken Larry Nassar survivor Aly Raisman lasted mere seconds, but that’s all that was needed to reportedly send a less-than-encouraging message.
Hirshland and Raisman got their first chance to meet face-to-face Tuesday when the two attended the U.S. Senate’s Protecting Athletes From Abuse hearing, but only Raisman was interested in speaking, according to a report from Christine Brennan of USA Today.
As soon as the two-hour Senate hearing on Olympic sex abuse ended Tuesday evening, Raisman said she moved toward Hirshland, seated no more than 20 feet from her in spectator seating, to introduce herself.
“I said, ‘Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me,’ and she kind of ignored me, but I was like, ‘excuse me,’ ” Raisman said after the hearing. “So she looked at me because I wasn’t going to let her leave. I said, ‘I’d really like to introduce myself to you.’ She’s like, ‘I’ve been instructed I can’t talk to you.’ So I said, ‘You can’t just say hi to me?’ She said no and then rushed out.”
Hirshland’s apprehension was likely due to Raisman’s ongoing lawsuit against the USOC, as her legal team was probably wary that any kind of apology could look like an admission of wrongdoing. However, it probably wouldn’t have compromised the USOC’s case for Hirshland to say something as small as “Hi, I can’t talk much now, but I just wanted to say I’m happy to finally meet you and believe we have the same goals.”
There is no chance on earth Hirshland didn’t know running into Raisman was a distinct possibility on Tuesday, so something as meek as “I’ve been instructed I can’t talk to you” was either a poorly planned introduction or an off-the-cuff remark caused by poor planning.
Raisman was reportedly less than happy about being completely rebuffed by the person in charge of cleaning up the USOC after the Nassar scandal shook the foundation of the organization. Per Brennan, Hirshland immediately emailed Raisman after hearing about her criticism and apologized, with a “sincere ask for a redo.”
Whether or not Raisman grants that request is up to Raisman, who revealed even more details about USA Gymnastic’s actions in the wake of the Nassar accusations.
Less than a week ago, Raisman and 140 other Nassar survivors stole the show at the ESPYs, accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and showing the world just how tragically large a group of dozens of victims can look like when they’re all together.
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