In September 2016, Valeri Liukin was appointed to replace Martha Karolyi as the coordinator for the United States women’s gymnastics team. Karolyi served as the team’s coach for 15 years, leaving after the Rio Olympics. She since has been sued by a former gymnast for creating a “regime of intimidation” that helped enable Larry Nassar’s serial sexual abuse of young gymnasts for decades. Liukin, the father of 2008 gold medalist Nastia Liukin, announced today that he would be resigning his post, telling USA Today “the present climate causes me, and more importantly, my family, far too much stress, difficulty and uncertainty.”
Liukin is a renowned gymnast, winning a pair of gold medals for the Soviet Union at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He launched his coaching career after retiring from competition, and rose to national prominence when Nastia Liukin began winning gold medals at world championships and the Beijing Olympics. In a blog post last week, Nastia wrote about her father’s efforts to change USAG’s abusive culture:
He, as much as anyone else, wants to change the culture and environment of this program. The first step was offering one of his two gyms, WOGA in Texas, as a temporary place for the Women’s National Team while they search for a new Training Center. He continues to stay committed to providing a safe environment for these young women working so hard at a sport we all love so much.
The third sentencing hearing for Nassar, who is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison, is ongoing in a Eaton County court.