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Tokyo Olympics: McKayla Maroney says she was forced to compete on a broken foot by abuser Larry Nassar

‘Me competing at the Olympics was literally risking the rest of my gymnastics career,’ former athlete says about performance at 2012 Games in London

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 02 August 2021 23:59

McKayla Maroney says she took concussion test several times to compete

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McKayla Maroney has criticised Team USA and USA Gymnastics following years of abuse by Larry Nassar – the former Team USA doctor now in prison for sexual abuse.

“When I was under ‘your care’ in Tokyo competing for Team USA at 15, and my parents weren’t allowed to stay in my hotel or see me in person,” Ms Maroney tweeted at USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee on Sunday, concerning what took place at the 2011 World Championship in Japan. “When I was all alone, naked, with Larry Nassar on top of me for 50 minutes [bawling]. Who’s fault is that?”

“Why did I have to walk the hallways of the hotel you booked me at 2am alone and get locked out of my room because my roommate Sabrina was asleep. I then told my teammates what happened the next day after practice with John Geddert in the car, and got yelled at,” she added.

The former coach of Team USA, Mr Geddert died by suicide in February after being charged with human trafficking and sexual assault of a teenage girl.

“I was told to ‘Shut the f*** up, and don’t ever say anything like that about Larry Nassar again’ by an older teammate I looked up to,” Ms Maroney wrote. “That scared the hell out of me, so I listened, and didn’t say anything for a long time. I just suppressed it until it came up again in 2015.”

Ms Maroney wrote on the platform that “I think most elite athletes get so skilled at pushing through adversity and being mentally strong that we then push through unjust treatment. [Also known as] abuse”.

USA Gymnastics (USAG) “says they’re not responsible for the abuse that happened. Well, then who is?” Ms Maroney asked.

“I was a minor in Tokyo and in London. We were not allowed to see our parents until after competitions, they were not allowed to stay at our hotel, or speak to us in person. We were in ‘USAG’s care’,” Ms Maroney tweeted about the World Championship in Tokyo and the 2012 Olympic Games in London when she was 15 and 16 years old respectively.

“USAG then points fingers at the USOC (US Olympic Committee) for abuse because they manage Olympics, international competitions, and all things Team USA. Tell me why I never spoke to anyone from the USOC until the day I got to London?? And they just gave me rules of things I shouldn’t say or do,” she tweeted.

When asked why parents aren’t allowed to be with their children during tournaments, Ms Maroney wrote that “parents are seen as a distraction” and that “we would get in trouble if we spoke to them”.

“My mom would send me packages of food to my hotel in Tokyo because I was starving. She did everything she could to help me,” the former athlete added.

“These gymnasts’ parents aren’t even allowed in Tokyo right now, and they’ll be there for a month or longer,” Ms Maroney tweeted concerning the ongoing Olympic Games.

“My parents had to sign a waiver before me leaving for competitions or camps stating that I’m now in USAG’s care, and they’ll protect me. If they don’t sign it we can’t compete,” the Olympian wrote.

The 25-year-old won gold and silver at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but the former gymnast said on Sunday that the success came at huge mental and physical costs.

In a lengthy Instagram story, she said she was forced to compete at the 2012 Games with a broken foot, a concussion, and a broken nose after Nassar lied about her injuries.

“As soon as I got to London, I broke my foot,” Ms Maroney told her followers. “I also, two weeks before the Olympics, hit the back of my head so hard that my nose broke. A bone in my nose exploded to protect my brain from brain damage.”

“So I had a very bad concussion two weeks before Olympic Trials and if you’ve ever had a really bad concussion you know it takes a while to heal from,” she said.

She added that she was made to take several concussion tests in order to be cleared for competition in the trials and at the Olympic Games.

“I had to do that concussion test over and over and over again – I feel like you're probably not allowed to do that – until I passed, but I needed to go to trials and I needed to go to the Olympics. My doctors knew that, Larry Nassar knew that,” Ms Maroney said.

The media was briefed that she was struggling with an old toe injury during the 2012 Games, but in reality, she said was suffering from a new, much more serious, injury that could’ve ended her gymnastics career.

“It was actually my foot, the sesamoid bone in my foot was completely shattered and dislocated, and it hurt so bad,” she said. “I had to get a miracle surgery... and they told me I’d probably never walk in heels again, never do gymnastics again. Me competing at the Olympics was literally risking the rest of my gymnastics career.”

In her Instagram video, Ms Maroney said her coach yelled at her, saying: “Why are you being so dramatic? This is an old break.”

“It wasn’t an old break. It was a fresh break,” Ms Maroney said.

In early 2018, Nassar was sentenced to between 40 to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty to ten counts of sexual assault. Several of his victims appeared in court to deliver statements about the way their lives had been devastated by his actions.

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