Published: Fri, March 17, 2017
Sport | By Scott Davis

CEO of USA Gymnastics resigns

CEO of USA Gymnastics resigns

The president and chief executive of USA Gymnastics has resigned in the wake of the federation's handling of sexual abuse allegations concerning a former team doctor.

Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, in 2011.

The resignation came a week after the United States Olympic Committee's board sent a recommendation to USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla requesting Penny step down.

Penny and USA Gymnastics, based in Indianapolis, have faced rising criticism from abuse victims and members of Congress over how the organization has handled allegations of abuse against local coaches across the country, and over Penny's handling of 2015 allegations made against Larry Nassar, the former longtime Team USA physician charged with more than 20 counts of sexual assault against woman and girls in MI.

To date, more than 70 women and girls have been added to that lawsuit alleging that abuse happened at USA Twistars Gymnastics Club in Dimondale, Michigan State University, and at Nassar's home in Holt, Michigan. "These incredible people have always acted in the best interests of the organization and challenged USA Gymnastics to seek improvements that would benefit the membership it served".

Nassar, a 53-year-old Michigan-native, was a highly-renowned doctor in the gymnastics world for years.

"Make no mistake - this resignation is the result of the fearless women who publicly spoke out about their sexual assault at the hands of Dr. Larry Nassar's abuse and the many other coaches who savaged children while USA Gymnastics looked the other way". Three former Team USA members have said Nassar assaulted them.

He is now jailed and faces federal charges related to child pornography possession. The USOC cannot force an Olympic governing body to fire a chief executive, but it can apply political pressure, and it ultimately can decertify an Olympic governing body, revoking its association with the Olympics. In 1996, after he got his degree in osteopathic medicine at Michigan State University, he was named USA Gymnastics' national medical director and team doctor for US gymnasts at Olympics in Atlanta.

"We have accepted Steve's resignation and want to thank him for his contributions and dedication to USA Gymnastics over the years". USA Gymnastics has denied wrongdoing.

"While the survivors we represent welcome the Penny resignation, we do not see it as the end of this scandal or need for reform".

According to USA Gymnastics, it will now initiate a national search for a new president and CEO. The organization has also cited the opening of the U.S. Center for SafeSport as an example of progress being made on the issue of child sexual abuse in Olympic sports.

"USA Gymnastics and the entire gymnastics community must work together to focus on keeping athletes safe", the statement said. Penny, but numerous long-term members of the board.

The Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, has reported more than 360 cases in which gymnasts have accused coaches of sexual transgressions over 20 years.

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