U.S. Olympic Committee Moves To Decertify USA Gymnastics

by Christina Marfice
Image via Francois Nel/Getty Images

The U.S. Olympic Committee has moved to revoke USA Gymnastics’ status as a “national governing body”

USA Gymnastics has been under a lot of fire lately, following years of scandals including the revelation that Dr. Larry Nassar sexually abused more than 140 young gymnasts as the US Olympic Gymnastics team doctor. Following Nassar’s trial, many USAG executives stepped down from their posts. And now, as no end to the organization’s controversy seems to be in sight, the US Olympics Committee has moved to revoke USA Gymnastics’ status and certification as the national governing body for the sport of gymnastics.

The US Olympic Committee’s CEO, Sarah Hirshland, announced the decision in a seemingly heartfelt letter to both athletes and fans.

“You began your journey in the sport of gymnastics for dozens of different reasons, but all of them trace back to gymnastics, and sport, being a positive influence on your life. It is supposed to be fun, to challenge you, and to teach you lessons about dedication, teamwork, excellence and overcoming adversity,” she wrote. “You deserve better.”

The letter goes on to state that the US Olympics Committee believes USA Gymnastics to be “incapable” of overcoming its internal turmoil “in its current form.” It says the upheaval isn’t fair to gymnasts, and that after months of assisting the organization with trying to find a path forward, it now believes there isn’t one.

The process to revoke USA Gymnastics of its certification and governing body status may be long. And it leaves an awful lot of questions about what happens now and in the immediate future as gymnasts seek to keep training and keep competing. There’s not another organization that can immediately step in and fill the hole when USAG is disbanded, though the Olympic Committee has promised to “identify and help build” one if needed.

In the meantime, before a new body is formally appointed, the U.S. Olympic Committee will take over and it sounds like it won’t stop the incredible progress of the women’s team, as Simone Biles just won a record four gold medals in the world championships. NPR says that the U.S. Olympic Committee taking over a sport is a very rare move, and USA Gymnastics reporter Alexandra Starr says “it could be awhile” before a new governing body is formed. She also notes the severity of the situation with USAG by pointing out that the U.S. Olympic Committee has only made a move like this four times, ever. “The fact that they’re resorting to this just shows how bad things were because they do not do this often,” she says.

Despite all the questions, though, one thing is correct: The young athletes who compete in this sport do deserve better. USAG has failed to protect their athletes or act in their best interests, and this move, while extreme, shows the Olympic Committee is taking a hard line on ensuring the next generation of gymnasts in its care is more safe. While this is sure to be a controversial move, that at least should reassure us all.