The United States Olympic Committee took steps Monday to revoke USA Gymnastics’ status as a national governing body. For the time being, the U.S. Olympic Committee will take over managing the gymnastics team, CEO Sarah Hirshland said in an open letter.
The move comes amid a change in culture as both organizations have been publicly lambasted for their handling of sexual assault claims. Both organizations have received public criticism following years of complaints about the gymnastics organization’s handling of sexual assault complaints.
“This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions. Seeking to revoke recognition is not a conclusion that we have come to easily, but I believe it is the right action,” Hirshland wrote in the letter. “In the short-term, we will work to ensure that America’s gymnasts have the support necessary to excel on and off the field of play. We are building plans to do just that no matter the outcome of the revocation process.”
Following the #MeToo movement, which caught fire last fall, athletes slowly came forward to tell their story of sexual assault by team doctor Larry Nassar. Eventually, his case grew to include more than 265 victims, and he was sentenced to 175 years in prison.
Amid the scandal, some board members of the USA Gymnastics board resigned and the USOC outlined a plan to get to the bottom of how the abuse went undetected for so long. Aly Raisman, an Olympic gymnastics gold medalist and victim of Nassar, criticized the USOC for not doing more.
In response to the years of sexual assault that led to the loss of key corporate sponsorship, CEO of USA Gymnastics Kerry Perry was forced out of her job in September.
But while the organization tried to rebuild, they couldn’t steer clear of controversy. Perry’s replacement stepped down after only five days on the job following a tweet critical of a Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick.
In her letter, Hirshland assured the gymnastics community that the sport remains the bedrock of the Olympic community, and said that she will work toward an organization that the gymnasts deserve.