U.S. Olympic gymnastics superstar, Simone Biles, is the latest USA Gymnastics’ team member to accuse former team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault.
In a statement released on her Twitter account, Biles talked about how difficult it was to come forward as one of the victim of sexual abuse by the ex-team physician ever since the scandal erupted.
The 20-year-old — who was a key member of the U.S. gymnastics team at the 2016 Rio Olympics — said she was inspired by her teammates who also allegedly faced sexual assault by Nassar, including Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
In her message, she said people know her as a “happy, giggly and energetic girl” but she was going through a very difficult time feeling a “bit broken.” Biles tried hard to shush her inner voice, but it screamed “louder” every time. “I am not afraid to tell my story anymore,” she wrote.
Biles — a five-time Olympic medalist — opened up in her message about being “one of the many survivors” of Nassar’s alleged years-long assault campaign.
“Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper. There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story, but I know now it is not my fault,” Biles wrote, talking about the courage it takes to open about such matter.
More than 100 women, including several U.S. Olympians, have accused Nassar of sexual misconduct under the guise of “special treatment.” The 54-year-old disgraced doctor is due to face sentencing for seven sexual assault charges this week; a four-day sentencing hearing began on Tuesday. Nassar, who has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for being a pedophile, may be jailed for life following the assault charges.
"It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the 'special' treatment,” Biles said. "This behavior is completely unacceptable, disgusting and abusive, especially coming from someone whom I was TOLD to trust.”
The brave lady, who holds the record of winning three successive World all-round titles, is planning to make a comeback after a break in late July at the U.S. Classic. Though Biles said it is “impossibly difficult” for her to “relive” the traumatic experience, she is still determined to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The gymnast has made a promise to never give up.
“I love this sport too much and I have never been a quitter,” she asserted. “I won't let one man, and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy."
Biles questioned why so many young athletes had to endure this abuse for so long. “We need to make sure something like this never happens again,” she said.
After Biles posted the message, her fellow gymnasts rose up in her support.
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. https://t.co/Ziec5Fkhwv— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) January 15, 2018
Raisman also demanded an investigation of how the abuse started in the U.S. gymnastics.
Apologizing to Biles and other victims for Nassar’s heinous crimes, USA Gymnastics told Huffington Post they are “heartbroken” and assured “unwavering support” to the courageous ladies speaking about the molestation.
“We are our athletes’ advocates. USA Gymnastics will continue to listen to our athletes and our members in our efforts of creating a culture of empowerment with a relentless focus on athlete safety every single day,” the organization said.
Thumbnail/Banner : Reuters, Damir Sagolj