Discovery of Missing Documents Spurred U.S.O.C. to Act Against Gymnastics Federation

Discovery of Missing Documents Spurred U.S.O.C. to Act Against Gymnastics Federation


The federation has made a series of hires that have upset and angered many of Nassar’s victims.

The gymnastics federation has had three chief executives in less than two years. That void in leadership comes at a time when the federation is also mired in a crushing number of lawsuits filed by girls and women who were abused by Nassar. There is little chance that it will be able to settle those cases quickly, and it is possible that the settlements will bankrupt the organization.

The mystery surrounding the documents and the questions of how they were handled led the U.S.O.C. to decide that U.S.A. Gymnastics, in its current form, would not be able to overhaul itself and that a new governing entity might have to be created. For months, government officials and former gymnasts have insisted as much.

According to a person with knowledge of the process, Sarah Hirshland, the chief executive of the U.S.O.C., had been considering stripping U.S.A. Gymnastics of its powers as a national governing body, known as decertification, since moving into her job in August. She decided last weekend to make the move after the national team returned from the world artistic gymnastics championships in Doha, Qatar, where the American women’s team won its fourth consecutive world title. The announcement was welcomed by many people in the sport.

“If they’re going to decertify,” said Dominique Moceanu, the 1996 Olympic gold medalist who now owns a gym in Ohio, “they should do it quickly so the athletes can prepare for the next Olympics.”

The process of moving toward decertification could take months. To decertify the gymnastics federation and take away its role of overseeing every level of the sport in the country, the U.S.O.C. has to appoint a review board, hold a hearing and wait for the review panel to issue a report. Then the U.S.O.C. board would hold a final vote on decertification.

In the meantime, the U.S.O.C. said it would manage the elite national teams. It is still trying to figure out how it will manage the federation’s other responsibilities, like overseeing local gyms, certifying coaches and managing its legal liabilities in litigation stemming from the sexual abuse scandal. U.S.A. Gymnastics will remain the governing body for the sport until the U.S.O.C. board holds its final vote.

The U.S.O.C.’s move is hardly a panacea. In the coming weeks, the law firm Ropes & Gray is expected to issue a long-awaited report on the Olympic committee’s handling of the Nassar matter.


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