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Gymnastics in the United States has had a rough few years. In an industry that has created a culture of ignoring the sexual abuse of their athletes, it’s high time for a change. However, are its leaders equipped to create such a change?

A Turning Point for Gymnastics

Last winter, there appeared to be a turning point in the industry and a reckoning of sorts for gymnasts all over the United States. During Lawrence G. Nassar’s trial, over 100 girls spoke out against the years of sexual abuse that they had endured at the hands of the national team doctor. Once sentenced to a life in prison, gymnasts were relieved that there would finally be a change in the industry.

However, only seven months later, the governing body for gymnastics in America, U.S.A. Gymnastics, let them down again. Through their appointment of executive chief, U.S.A. Gymnastics exhibited indifference towards dismantling the environment that had allowed Nassar’s crimes to go unpunished for so long. This ultimately led to the United States Olympic Committee to strip U.S.A. Gymnastics of any and all governing powers.

The Trouble with U.S.A. Gymnastics

While Nassar’s sentencing should have been the catalyst for major change in American gymnastics, it was hardly enough. Instead of bringing in completely new and unbiased leadership, U.S.A. Gymnastics appointed Mary Lee Tracy to the position of interim chief executive. Tracy had a long history of supporting Nassar, harassing athletes about their weight, and pushing athletes to the extreme.

In an industry that was facing such a tumultuous time, a pick like Tracy only signaled indifference at best and corruption at worst. Following the complaints of gymnasts, Tracy was forced to resign shortly after being appointed.

Weeks later, U.S.A. Gymnastics hired on former congresswoman Mary Bono to take on the task of interim chief executive. Lasting only five days, Bono was another poor pick by the federation. Bono was pressured to resign after several athletes pointed out that her lobbying work delayed reports exposing Nassar’s assaults from being publicly revealed.

Gymnasts hoping to see revolutionary change throughout the sport remain confused. The choices of Bono and Tracy show incredible dysfunction and apathy in a culture that has become increasingly toxic for athletes. These gymnasts recognize the need for drastic change, but when will gymnastics’ governing bodies?