When gold medal Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman gave her powerful impact statement at Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing back in January, she said that USA Gymnastics is an organisation that "I feel is rotting from the inside." At the time, it was a shocking statement to hear from one of the most prominent athletes in the sport, amid arguably the biggest sexual abuse scandal in sports. But over the course of the last year, watching the organisation desperately try to right its many wrongs, and repeatedly attempt to fix its problematic leadership, it's clear that Raisman was right.
Today, USA Gymnastics filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to "rebuild the organisation and meet our responsibilities to our athletes and members, the survivors and the entire community," according to a statement from Kathryn Carson, a member of USA Gymnastics' new board of directors.
So, what exactly does all of this mean? When Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 young women and girls at the end of January, USA Gymnastics' leadership cleared house, and the organisation insisted that they would launch an investigation to figure out how he got away with this for so long.
Raisman, who was among the most vocal survivors of Nassar's abuse, wasn’t convinced that USA Gymnastics would be able to conduct a fair analysis, so she opted out of the investigation and sued both the gymnastics organisation and the United States Olympic Committee, alleging that they knew about Nassar and failed to do anything. "I refuse to wait any longer for these organisations to do the right thing," she told NBC News. "It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed."
Then, in November, the US Olympic Committee announced that they were taking steps to revoke USA Gymnastics' status as a national governing body because they believed "the challenges facing the organisation are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form," Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the USOC wrote in an open letter to gymnasts.
Cut to now, Carson said in her statement that this move allows the organisation to "reorganise while continuing to conduct day-to-day business," which includes putting on competitions, events, and camps. "We owe it to these brave women who have come forward," the USA Gymnastics website reads. "At the same time, the filing will enable USA Gymnastics to continue the important work to support our gymnasts at all levels, fully operating and meeting its responsibilities to the entire membership."
Currently, USA Gymnastics faces 100 lawsuits from athletes and survivors. By filing bankruptcy, USA Gymnastics would be able to settle these lawsuits and essentially stall the US Olympic Committee's next steps for dismantling their organisation just a little bit longer, the Associated Press reports.
John Manly, the lawyer who represented Nassar's survivors, told NBC News that USA Gymnastics declaring bankruptcy is an "inevitable result of the inability of this organisation to meet its core responsibility of protecting its athlete members from abuse." Manly also reiterated that their leadership is "morally and financially bankrupt," according to NBC News. "They have inflicted and continue to inflict unimaginable pain on survivors and their families."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).