Simone Biles, considered the only athlete capable of breaking legendary swimmer Michael Phelps’ record of 23 Olympic gold medals, won four gold and one bronze at Rio, and is the biggest name among the 150-plus athletes to have accused Larry Nasser.
In September 2016, former gymnast Rachael DenHollander first accused Nassar of sexual abuse. By the following February, former team members Jeanette Antolin, Jessica Howard and Sydney Olympic Games bronze medallist Jamie Dantzscher alleged that Nassar had abused them. The trio also described the national team’s training centre at the Karolyi Ranch – run by Bela (former US head coach) and Marta (national team coordinator) Karolyi – as an “emotionally abusive environment.”
The list of gymnasts who have said that they have been abused is long. In all, over 150 athletes have been known to have accused Nassar.
Nassar was arrested on charges of child pornography after the FBI recovered over 37,000 images and videos from his home. In a subsequent sentencing, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on December 7, 2017.
He has been accused of molesting child athletes as young as 13, and the sentencing process is expected to conclude late on Tuesday.
The 54-year-old licensed Osteopath had begun his association with USA Gymnastics – the governing body for the sport in the country – in 1986. By 1996, Nassar had been promoted to being the official team doctor and National Medical Coordinator. At the same time, Nassar was also a faculty member of the Michigan State University.
He was fired from the University in 2016, and was removed from his position in the national federation a year earlier.
Dark side of glory
Since Nassar became the official team doctor in 1996, the American women’s team has picked up 33 Olympic medals in six editions, won by 35 athletes.
“At the end of the day, there are members of every single Olympic team since 1996 he did this to. That’s what we’re going to end up with,” John Manly, the lawyer representing Dantzscher, Antolin and Howard told the New York Times.