Another shoe has dropped in the U.S. Olympic Committee’s response to the revelation of the extent of former national team doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse coming to light in recent days and weeks. In a blistering email to the US Gymnastics on Thursday, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun has called on the 21-member board to resign within the next six days or have the federation decertified, per the USA Today.
In a letter released yesterday, Blackmun demanded the replacement of the board. Blackmun’s ultimatum on Thursday, which he emailed to the current board reportedly included specifics regarding the process for the implementation of new USA Gymnastics board members.
USA Gymnastics’ board will then have until Feb. 28 to seat an interim board and 12 months to seat a permanent board. During that 12-month period, USA Gymnastics must also cooperate with an independent investigation into systemic failures within USA Gymnastics and into rooting out other individuals who may have ignored complaints about Nassar’s abuse.
The board also must “substantively discuss” at each of its meetings how the federation is progressing in implementing 70 recommendations made by former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels, whose review of USA Gymnastics found a “complete cultural change” was needed. It must then report its progress to the USOC.
The USA Gymnastics board was quick to accept all of Daniels’ recommendations, but it has been slow to implement them.
Before the leadership of the board of directors resigned this week, former CEO and president Steve Penny had been the only USA Gymnastics official held publicly accountable. He was forced to resign in March under pressure from the USOC.
On Wednesday, Nassar was sentenced by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina between 40 to 175 years in prison on top of a 60 year sentence he was given for pleading guilty to federal child pornography charges. However, over the course of the last two years, USA Gymnastics’ incompetence has narrowed into focus since Rachel Denhollander contacted the Indianapolis Star in August of 2016 to disclose the details of Nassar’s abuse.
During victim impact statements in Nassar’s sentence hearing this past week, USA Gymnastics and the USOC were repeatedly singled out for their failures to stop Nassar over the course of his 20 years as a team doctor. USA Gymnastics dismissed Nassar in July 2015 after a coach overheard athletes discussing his abusive treatment. However, it took five weeks after the coach notified USA Gymnastics for them to fire Nassar. The board didn’t decide to cut ties with Karolyi Ranch as their national team training center until last Thursday, despite it being revealed as the site of much of Nassar’s reprehensible behavior.
According to Blackmun’s email, no one currently serving on the board is eligible to be an interim member or a member of any future board, except the five athlete representatives.
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