For a brief moment after last month’s national championships, it seemed like things were getting better, if only slightly, for USA Gymnastics. We had the return of gymnastics juggernaut known as Simone Biles, who demonstrated that nine months of training is all she needs to become unstoppable in the sport once again.
The rest of the field, including 2017 world champion Morgan Hurd and 2018 U.S. Classic silver medalist Riley McCusker, was also super impressive in Boston. For a national championships two months before worlds, I remember being amazed at just how consistent the gymnasts looked. Despite the upheaval of the past 12 months—the closing of the national team training center, the resignation of national team coordinator Valeri Liukin, the surprise canning of women’s program senior vice president Rhonda Faehn, the canceling of training camps—the gymnasts and their coaches really managed to keep things together. They—not the administration of USA Gymnastics—deserve a ton of credit for what they’ve managed to do.
Especially when the administration keeps doing shit like this: On Wednesday, it was announced that Mary Lee Tracy, a coach and owner of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, would be the new developmental coordinator for the women’s elite program. In this capacity, she would be working with promising young gymnasts and their coaches to help prepare them for the higher levels.
The reaction online to this announcement was swift and brutal because Tracy, who coached two members of the 1996 gold medal winning Olympic team, had made supportive comments about Larry Nassar after 50 women had come forward and said Nassar had sexually abused them.
As you might imagine, the survivors and the gymternet were not having it. Aly Raisman called out USA Gymnastics for the decision, on Twitter:
There was no great urgency in finding a new developmental coordinator at this exact moment. And the problems with her were easily googleable. The moment the press release was put online, everyone online had dug up the article from December 2016 as well as all of the comments she’d made in Facebook threads. Maybe choose a coach who hadn’t praised Nassar after so many victims had come forward? I’m just spitballing here.
After Raisman spoke out, several of Tracy’s former athletes, including 2000 Olympic team alternate Alyssa Beckerman, spoke out about controlling and emotionally abusive treatment they experienced while working with Tracy.
Tracy attempted to defend herself on Facebook, saying that she was merely stating her experience. And then she claimed she was being cyber-bullied in this story and said she’d consider resigning. In this press account, Tracy said she’d consider resigning if her family was negatively impacted.
Then Tracy announced that she had been asked to resign because she had tried to contact Raisman and apologize.
Raisman’s mother Lynn said that as far she knew, her daughter hadn’t been contacted by Tracy.
Late last night, brand new USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland weighed in, saying in that a leadership change might be in order:
“We’ve been following their activity and as we close the day I’m afraid I can offer nothing but disappointment,” Hirshland wrote. “Under the circumstances we feel that the organization is struggling to manage its obligations effectively and it is time to consider making adjustments in the leadership. We are engaging with the USAG board to offer our perspective, and also our assistance, as they manage the situation. We expect some additional discussions will occur this weekend.”
And now the United States Elite Coaches Association has called for a vote of “no confidence” in CEO and President Kerry Perry.