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Simon Biles revealed Wednesday that the sexual abuse she suffered by disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar had a direct impact on her mental health at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games this summer where she unexpectedly withdrew from several events.
Biles and several other members of Team USA Gymnastics spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee over the FBI’s failed investigation into Nassar. Biles’ impactful statement touched on a range of issues with the investigation before detailing the lasting impacts the abuse has had on her and so many other athletes years after allegations were first made in 2015.
Nassar was charged in 2016 with federal child pornography offenses and sexual abuse charges in Michigan. He is now serving decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women said he sexually abused them under the guise of medical treatment when he worked for Michigan State and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)
“The announcement in the spring of 2020 that the Tokyo Games were to be postponed for a year meant that I would be going to the gym, to training, to therapy, living daily, among the reminders of this story for another 365 days. As I have stated in the past, one thing that helped me push each and every day was the goal of not allowing this crisis to be ignored. I worked incredibly hard to make sure that my presence could maintain a connection between the failures and the competition at Tokyo 2020.”
She continued: “That has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry, particularly when required to travel to Tokyo without the support of any of my family. I am a strong individual and I will persevere, but I never should have been left alone to suffer the abuse of Larry Nassar. And the only reason I did was because of the failures that lie at the heart of the abuse that you are now asked to investigate.”
Biles competed at the all-around team event in Tokyo before withdrawing from the vault, individual all-around and two other apparatus events citing her mental health struggles. She would eventually return to close out the Games with a bronze medal in the women’s balance beam final.
The four-time gold medalist made no mistake in placing the blame on Nassar but also looked for accountability from USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee that she said was aware of the abuse.
“I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse,” she said. “If you allow a predator to harm children, the consequences will be swift and severe. Enough is enough.”
United States gymnasts from left, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols arrive for a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar investigation on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)
The hearing is part of a congressional effort to hold the FBI accountable after multiple missteps in investigating the case, including the delays that allowed the now-imprisoned Nassar to abuse other young gymnasts.
At least 40 girls and women said they were molested after the FBI had been made aware of the problem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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