The United States Olympic Committee sent an open letter to athletes shortly after the completion of the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the disgraced former gymnastics national team doctor who sexually abused more than 160 girls under the guise of medical treatment.
The letter calls for a full overhaul of USA Gymnastics leadership. Three members of the USAG's board of directors have already resigned, but the letter says what's in need is nothing short of a "full turnover of leadership from the past."
"The athlete testimony that just concluded in the Nassar hearings framed the tragedy through the eyes of the victims and survivors, and was worse than our own worst fears," the letter, which was sent on the behalf of USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, reads. "It was powerful because of the strength of the victims, survivors and parents, who so eloquently and forcefully told their stories and so rightfully demanded justice. The USOC should have been there to hear it in person, and I am deeply sorry that did not happen."
More than 160 of Nassar's victims testified or had statements read over a seven-day sentencing hearing in Michigan, but no representative from the USOC was present.
Nassar was sentenced to a maximum of 175 years in prison on Wednesday, and he was already sentenced to 60 years for possession of child pornography.
"The purpose of this message is to tell all of Nassar’s victims and survivors, directly, how incredibly sorry we are. We have said it in other contexts, but we have not been direct enough with you. We are sorry for the pain caused by this terrible man, and sorry that you weren’t afforded a safe opportunity to pursue your sports dreams. The Olympic family is among those that have failed you."
A number of Nassar's victims have vehemently criticized USAG for its handling of the Nassar case. Specifically, many of the nation's most famous gymnasts—including Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas—said the organization did not do nearly enough to create a safe environment for athletes. Raisman has been perhaps the most vocal critic of the USOC. for its conduct after the abuse became public; she suggested a comprehensive change in leadership is warranted and labeled the organization's initial response was to deflect responsibility.
There has already been changes within USA Gymnastic's leadership. Steve Penny, who led the organization from 2005 until March, when he was forced out after the Nassar ordeal went public, has been replaced by Kerry Perry. Perry announced last week that USA Gymnastics would no longer hold national team training at Karolyi Ranch in Texas, a site where so many were abused by Nassar.
The USOC's letter laid out a four-point plan to ensure something like this never happens again. The points are as follows:
• We Must Change the Culture of the Sport
• We Must Change the Governance Structure of the NGB
• We Must Know Who Knew What and When
• We Must Support Safe Sport Victims and Survivors
Full text of the letter can be read here.