Gymnasts will be required to be chaperoned by someone other than their coaches at four upcoming events, according to an email obtained by USA TODAY Sports that was sent this weekend to USA Gymnastics staff members, coaches and parents.
Rhonda Faehn, the women’s program director, also said in the email that USA Gymnastics has decided not to compete at meets in Canada and Italy that have been staples on the calendar.
The changes come as USA Gymnastics continues to deal with the fallout from Larry Nassar, the longtime team physician who sexually abused more than 250 girls and young women under the guise of medical treatment. Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber were among his victims, and Raisman and Maroney said he abused them on international trips.
Nassar faces a maximum sentence of life in prison Monday when he is sentenced in Eaton County, Mich., on three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually assaulting three gymnasts. He has already been sentenced to 175 years for seven sexual assault charges in Ingham County, and 60 years for federal child pornography charges.
USA Gymnastics canceled a national team training camp last month after the federation cut ties with the Karolyi ranch, where some of the abuse occurred. There will be no formal camp this month, but there will be a competition-like event Feb. 24-25 at LSU for any senior-level gymnasts interested in competing at World Cup events in Stuttgart, Germany; London; and Tokyo; as well as the alternate spot for the American Cup.
“Each athlete will be required to have a chaperone with them, other than their coach,” Faehn wrote. “This individual can be a parent or guardian, a grandparent, another relative, etc. Each athlete and coach will be responsible for setting up their own arrangements ie. flight and hotel.”
Athletes selected for the international World Cups also will be required to bring a chaperones, though USA Gymnastics will cover their flight and hotel expenses.
“If a parent or designated guardian is not able to attend, USA Gymnastics will provide a safe sport certified female chaperone,” Faehn wrote.
The inability of parents or other chaperones to travel with their daughters was among the many criticisms leveled at USA Gymnastics by gymnasts abused by Nassar.
“He was the only male allowed to be present in the athlete dorm rooms to do whatever treatments he wanted. He was allowed to treat us in hotel rooms alone without any supervision. He took photos of us during training and whatever else he wanted,” Wieber said last month when she addressed Nassar in court.
“Nobody was protecting us from being taken advantage of. Nobody was even concerned whether or not we were being sexually abused. I was not protected, and neither were my teammates.”
USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to USA TODAY Sports’ request to explain the changes.
Nassar was dismissed by USA Gymnastics in 2015 after a coach overheard athletes talking about the abusive procedure. But USA Gymnastics did not notify the FBI for five weeks, conducting its own investigation first.
Even after it turned the case over to the FBI, it did not notify Michigan State or authorities in Michigan, despite knowing that Nassar was still working there.
The allegations against Nassar became public in August 2016, when Rachel Denhollander contacted the Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, and said she’d been abused by Nassar. That led to dozens more accusations, along with the revelation that athletes had reported Nassar to Michigan State as early as 1997.
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