The president of USA Gymnastics has spoken publicly in support of Simone Biles after the five-time Olympic medallist accused the organisation of “failing” gymnasts in light of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case.
On Wednesday, Biles was interviewed by reporters during a training session in Kansas City for the 2019 US National Gymnastics Championships.
The gymnast tearfully spoke about the mistrust she felt towards USA Gymnastics, having previously said she was sexually abused by former Team USA gymnastics doctor Nassar.
''You had one job. You literally had one job and you couldn’t protect us and it is just really sad because now every time I go to the doctor or training, I get worked on,” Biles said.
“I don’t want to get worked on, but my body hurts, I’m 22 and at the end of the day that’s my fifth rotation and I have to go to therapy.''
Li Li Leung, who became president and CEO of USA Gymnastics in February, has backed Biles’ statement, saying that she understands that many gymnasts, including the 22-year-old, were “let down” by the organisation.
“Historically, our organisation has silenced our gymnasts and I am 100% supportive of giving our athletes a voice,” Leung said on Thursday during a meeting at the national championships.
“Our athletes should be able to say what they feel and be comfortable doing so. I understand that we have let down many athletes, we have let down Simone, and she needs time to heal from that.”
Leung added that she is “completely supportive” of Biles “voicing her concerns and her feelings”.
In January 2018, Biles shared a statement on Twitter explaining that she was “one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar”.
The gymnast stated that while most people regard her as a “happy, giggly, and energetic girl”, she had recently been feeling “a bit broken”.
In February 2018, Nassar was sentenced to up to 125 years in prison after 200 women testified that they had been sexually abused by the disgraced doctor.
The scandal prompted the entire board of directors at USA Gymnastics to resign, in addition to the president and athletic director of Michigan State University, where Nassar previously worked.
The 141 women received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which is presented to those who have shown “strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs”, ESPN states.
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