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US Olympic Committee calls for USA Gymnastics board resignations within six days

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun sent a letter to USAG laying out six requirements to avoid decertification as the sport’s national governing body.

News: Larry Nassar Sentencing Hearing
Former U.S. Olympians Aly Raisman, left, and Jordyn Wieber sit in Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s courtroom during the fourth day of sentencing for Larry Nassar, who pled guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault.
Matthew Dae Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Olympic Committee wants to see immediate change at USA Gymnastics in the aftermath of Larry Nassar’s sentencing. USOC CEO Scot Blackmun wrote a letter to USAG on Thursday indicating that it would be decertified as the sport’s national governing body if it failed to meet six conditions by specified dates. Prominent among the conditions is the resignation by the USAG board of directors by Jan. 31.

“We do not base these requirements on any knowledge that any individual USAG staff or board members had a role in fostering or obscuring Nassar’s actions,” Blackmun wrote. “Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs fundamental rebuilding.”

With the exception of athlete representatives, current USAG board members would be prohibited from being a part of the interim board (to be in place by Feb. 12) or the next iteration of the board (to be in place within 12 months), according to USOC requirements. Other requirements to avoid decertification include increased transparency and regular progress reports from the USAG board, cooperation with an independent investigation into USAG’s handling of allegations against Nassar through the years, and increased training for USAG staff.

Read the full USOC letter HERE.

In a statement posted to its website Thursday evening along with a copy of the USOC letter, USAG indicated an acceptance of the requirements.

”USA Gymnastics completely embraces the requirements outlined in the Jan. 25, 2017 letter from the United States Olympic Committee and appreciates the opportunity to work with the USOC to accomplish change for the betterment of our organization, our athletes and our clubs,” USAG said in a statement posted to its website on Thursday along with a copy of the USOC letter. “We understand that the requirements imposed by the letter will help us enhance our ability to build a culture of empowerment throughout the organization, with an increased focus on athlete safety and well-being. Our commitment is uncompromising, and we hope everything we do makes this very clear.”

The USOC laid out these requirements and the corresponding timeline one day after Nassar, a former USAG and Michigan State medical trainer, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for criminal sexual misconduct. During a sentencing hearing that lasted seven days, 156 women came forward to share victim impact statements detailing sexual abuse committed by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment. Prominent U.S. Olympians Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber were among those who testified during the hearing in Michigan.

”I have represented the United States of America in two Olympics and have done so successfully, and both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee have been very quick to capitalize and celebrate my success,” Raisman said during her testimony at the sentencing hearing. “But did they reach out when I came forward? No. So, at this point, talk is worthless to me. We’re dealing with real lives in the future of our sport. We need to believe this won’t happen again.”

In an open letter to athletes published hours after the Nassar sentencing was complete on Wednesday, the USOC apologized and outlined a plan for change. That letter stated the need for new leadership at USAG, noting that the recent resignations of three executive leaders from the board of directors was not enough.