USA Gymnastics is only interested in medal counts and turning a profit, not the well being of its money makers, according to Aly Raisman.
“Their biggest priority from the beginning — and still today — is their reputation, the medals they win and the money they make off of us,” the outspoken Olympian said Tuesday on “Outside the Lines,” after ESPN published an extensive piece detailing the enabling of Dr. Larry Nassar’s unfathomable behavior.
“I don’t think they care. I don’t think they’re sorry. I think they just release their statements, and it’s disappointing,” she said. “If they really cared then there would be a lot of changes, and there has not been enough change.”
Raisman, 23, is one of the 140 women alleging the disgraced doctor abused them during treatment. Nearly 100 of those agonizing stories are being told in a Michigan courtroom this week at Nassar’s sentencing hearing.
The gold medalist claims she felt threatened by USA Gymnastics to keep quiet about Nassar’s methods.
“For so long, I had been manipulated, and I was very confused — as many people are,” Raisman said. “Sometimes you don’t really realize you’re being abused because Larry was such a master manipulator, and he was so good at brainwashing me and so many other people. So the second that I realized it did happen to me, I told my mom, and then we told USA Gymnastics. And, to me, it seemed like they threatened me to be quiet.”
Raisman isn’t the only Olympian who felt obligated to close her mouth. Fellow gymnast McKayla Maroney, who filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics in December, claims she was “forced to agree to a nondisparagement clause and confidentiality provision,” stemming from a 2016 settlement, which would result in a $100,000 if broken. Chrissy Teigen and actress Kristen Bell have already declared they will pay the fees should she break her silence.
USA Gymnastics said Tuesday that Maroney, 22, will not be fined if she speaks about the alleged abuse.
For Raisman, it appears too little, too late.
“If they cared, then the second they realized I was abused, they would have reached out, asked if I needed therapy, asked if I was OK, asked what they could have done, and they would have made a big change,” Raisman said.
Though Raisman believed her protectors were “doing the right thing,” she regrets instilling trust in them.
“Instead, they allowed Larry to continue to work on little girls in Michigan and molest gymnasts for a very long time, and that’s just — I don’t know how they sleep at night,” she said. “I’m so angry that after realizing that we were abused, they let him continue to molest other gymnasts when they told me there was an investigation going on. They told me to be quiet, and I thought they were doing the right thing, and I didn’t want to tip off the investigation. I trusted them and I shouldn’t have.”
Raisman’s “Final Five” teammate, Simone Biles, recalled her own experience with Nassar’s predatory behavior in a lengthy post Monday on social media.
“Most of you know me as a happy, giggly, and energetic girl. But lately … I’ve felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head the louder it screams,” Biles wrote in a letter posted on Twitter, with the caption “Feelings … #MeToo.”
“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it my fault?’” Biles continued. “I now know the answer to those questions. No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others.”
Raisman swiftly shared her support for Biles on Twitter.
“I am so proud of you. You are incredible Simone. I stand with you. I am shaking reading your post. I know we will all get through this together,” Raisman tweeted.
Nassar, who also served as the team doctor for Michigan State, was sentenced in December to 60 years in prison. Raisman announced Monday she would not be on hand to give her testimony against Nassar in court Tuesday.