It has been a turbulent year—to say the least—for USA Gymnastics (USAG), the national governing body for the sport in America: 2018 began with the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar to 175 years in prison on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct after hundreds of brave women came forward about the abuse they suffered while under his care as a team doctor.
On Wednesday, the USAG filed for bankruptcy in an Indiana court. (The headquarters are located in Indianapolis.) A press release posted on their website says that the voluntary filing “will enable USA Gymnastics to continue to support its athletes, to fully operate and meet its responsibilities to the entire membership and to expeditiously resolve the claims made by the survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by Larry Nassar.” It also notes that any claims by victims would be covered by insurance, and not affected by the filing.
“We owe it to the survivors to resolve, fully and finally, claims based on the horrific acts of the past and, through this process, seek to expedite resolution and help them move forward,” Kathryn Carson, who was recently elected chair of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors, says in the release. “Our sport is safer and stronger thanks to the bravery of these women. The Chapter 11 filing and the expedited resolution of these claims are critical first steps in rebuilding the community’s trust.”
She also says that the organization will continue to support gymnasts at all levels, including future Olympic hopefuls: “We have made significant progress in implementing safety initiatives and are in the process of searching for a new CEO who has the experience to build a leadership team that will restore confidence in USA Gymnastics, and set and execute a clear vision for a successful future.”
High profile gymnasts (and Nassar victims) like Aly Raisman have been publicly critical of the organization’s handling of the Nassar situation and the USAG’s hiring of individuals who they saw as a part of larger problems within the USAG. “I don’t trust the current leadership/board at USAG to pick a new CEO,” Raisman tweeted in October. “They’ve failed us too many times. They’ve shown us their lack of urgency to fix & understand this horrible problem. If changes in leadership/board don’t happen I am terrified that history will repeat itself.” The USAG hired Mary Bono as its new CEO, only to have her resign amidst controversy just four days later.
There are a number of major gymnastics events coming up in early 2019 including national qualifiers and the World Cup. Given the way sensitive matters have been handled thus far and today’s bankruptcy filing, it seems hard to believe this will be resolved before those premiere events.