Aly Raisman, 2012 and 2016 Olympic team captain and 6x Olympic medal winner, has finally broken her silence about the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the national governing body of her sport, USA Gymnastics, in the year since the 2016 Games.
In an interview with the Associated Press and USA Today, Raisman did not mince her words when talking about how USA Gymnastics has handled the accusations against Larry Nassar, the former team doctor who has been accused of molesting over 100 women and girls, including national team members and world and Olympic medalists, under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar was the team doctor throughout most of Raisman’s elite gymnastics career but she declined to comment on her personal interactions with him.
Raisman accused USA Gymnastics of trying to contain the fallout from the scandal and “sweep it under the rug” in the year since the allegations first became public. “I feel like there’s a lot of articles about it, but nobody has said, ‘This is horrible, this is what we’re doing to change,’” Raisman said.
Raisman also pointed out that many gymnasts, even those who haven’t been assaulted by Nassar, may have still been traumatized and should be offered assistance by USA Gymnastics.
“Whether or not he [Nassar] did it to a gymnast, they still knew him. Even if he didn’t do it to you, it’s still the trauma and the anxiety of wondering what could have happened. I think that needs to be addressed. These girls, they should be comfortable going to USA Gymnastics and saying ‘I need help, I want therapy. I need this,’” she said.
Raisman also had problems with the way Deborah Daniels, the former federal prosecutor who conducted the internal review of how USA Gymnastics handles allegations of sexual abuse, shied away from looking at the past. Raisman said she wasn’t contacted by Daniels for the report, and also insisted that she feels that the organization cannot just look forward; it has to reckon with the past and reach out to former athletes and ask them about their experiences.
“It can’t just be about we’re making sure the athletes feel safe now. It has to be going back and apologizing and going to these families and going to all these gymnasts and saying, `What made you feel unsafe? What can we do for the next generation?’” Raisman said.
Though Raisman is hardly the first gymnast to speak out against USA Gymnastics since the abuse allegations first were made public a year ago, she is the highest profile athlete to date who spoken critically of the national governing body. Raisman may not yet be done with USA Gymnastics as an athlete (she’s still mulling whether or not to resume training try to make the Olympic team in 2020), which makes her frankness all the more impressive.