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U.S. gymnasts could have a new governing body. The US Olympic Committee (USOC) moved on Monday to revoke recognition of USA Gymnastics (USAG) as the sport’s national governing body. The move comes in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse trial which sentenced the former team doctor to 175 years in prison for abusing over 100 women both under the guise of medical treatment while working with USAG and at Michigan State University. Less than a year after calling for the resignation of USAG’s board of directors and laying out requirements for reform, the USOC is taking steps to remove USAG and replace it with a new organization to oversee gymnastics in the United States. The move could drastically change the path of prospective Olympic athletes and overhaul the sport from a grassroots level. USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland explained the decision in an open letter to the gymnastics community. “we believe the challenges facing the organization are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form. We have worked closely with the new USAG board over recent months to support them, but despite diligent effort, the NGB [national governing body] continues to struggle. And that’s not fair to gymnasts around the country. Even weeks ago, I hoped there was a different way forward. But we now believe that is no longer possible.” In a response, USAG says they are “evaluating the best path forward” following the USOC move, while defending itself — saying the current board is working towards fixing the problems of the past. “USA Gymnastics’ board was seated in June 2018 and inherited an organization in crisis with significant challenges that were years in the making. In the four months since, the Board has done everything it could to move this organization towards a better future. We immediately took steps to change the leadership and are currently conducting a search to find a CEO who can rebuild the organization and, most importantly, regain the trust of the gymnastics community. Substantial work remains — in particular, working with the plaintiffs and USA Gymnastics’ insurers to resolve the ongoing litigation as quickly as possible. We will continue to prioritize our athletes’ health and safety and focus on acting in the best interests of the greater gymnastics community.” The investigation into Larry Nassar’s crimes revealed systemic problems within USAG. The investigation into Nassar’s abuse of athletes as lead USAG doctor pulled back the curtain on an organization that valued athletic success over everything else, even if that meant continuing to keep athletes at risk. Numerous survivors testified that they notified USAG trainers and coaches, detailing abuse suffered at the hands of Nassar — but were either ignored, or convinced they were mistaken. Details are still coming to light over how much USAG knew, but this is what we know about their involvement so far. In December of 2017 former Olympic athlete McKayla Maroney filed a lawsuit alleging that USAG paid her to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to cover up Nassar’s crimes shortly after the Indy Star published its first investigative piece into abuse inside USAG. Olympian Aly Raisman said that USAG was “100 percent responsible” for enabling Nassar’s abuse. USAG director of sports medicine Debbie Van Horn was indicted in June of 2018 for failing to report abuse. In October of 2018 former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was arrested for tampering with evidence. Prosecutors say that Penny ordered the removal of key documents relating to Nassar from training facilities after learning of the investigation. What does revoking USAG’s status as governing body mean, exactly? The United States has a privatized Olympic committee, rather than the federal government overseeing representative athletes. The USOC recognizes individual governing bodies which feed into the USOC for representation. Think of it like the NCAA’s relationship with conferences in collegiate sports. When it comes to gymnastics, USAG handles training, competition and selection of athletes — who are then presented to the USOC so they can compete in international competition. If the recognition of USAG is revoked then a new governing body will need to be named, or created to continue sanctioned competition feeding into international representation. Wait ... what do you mean if the recognition is revoked? This move isn’t set in stone. There are a series of bylaws and procedures that need to be followed in order to remove USAG as a recognized governing body. The USOC is filing a complaint to start a Section 8 proceeding against USAG, which is outlined in the USOC’s bylaws. This section, dealing with organization membership, grants the right to the USOC CEO to terminate membership, pending a review by an independent board. In order for USAG to be removed the following needs to happen now the complaint has been issued. USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland will appoint an independent review board. A hearing will be held on the complaint, and for USAG to defend itself. The review board will issue a report and recommendation to the CEO. The CEO will present the report to the USOC board, who will then vote on whether to revoke USAG’s status. This will likely be a long and drawn out process, which is why USOC is offering USAG the opportunity to voluntarily step down. At this time, USAG has not indicated whether it will fight the complaint. Has the USOC revoked recognition before? Yes, but it doesn’t happen often. In the past, the decision has been made based on financial or function mismanagement. Team Handball was decertified in 2006 as a result of “a continued pattern of dysfunction.” USOC also absorbed USA Taekwondo in 2005 after the organization failed to meet its financial obligations. What happens now? The decision to start proceedings against USAG comes after the 2018 world championships were completed in Doha, Qatar. Thanks to standout performances from Simone Biles, Morgan Hurd and Riley McCusker, the US women’s team punched its ticket for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by winning gold, with the men still needing to compete in 2019’s world championships to earn a spot following a fourth-place finish — though it’s expected they’ll qualify too. How individual gymnasts will qualify for the teams and how those national competitions will operate during this review and revocation process is murky. Hirshland says that the USOC understands it will be difficult on athletes: “You need to know what happens to gymnasts and your clubs if USA Gymnastics’ membership is revoked by the USOC. We are developing both a short- and longer-term plan and will communicate it as soon as we can.” While it remains unclear how this will proceed if hearings drag into individual qualification, the USOC’s move to remove USAG is being well received by the some of the sport’s biggest voices: To the gymnastics community— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) November 6, 2018