Gold medalist declares gymnastics’ ‘toxic culture’ must change | Sunday Observer

Gold medalist declares gymnastics’ ‘toxic culture’ must change

24 October, 2021
Dominique Dawes
Dominique Dawes

 Just before the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in August, American gymnast Simone Biles told “60 Minutes” she wouldn’t allow a daughter of hers to participate in USA Gymnastics.

The organization that oversees competitive gymnastics in the United States hasn’t taken responsibility for the sexual abuse of dozens of girl gymnasts by Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, Biles told the CBS program.

Dominique Dawes, who became the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics, at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, told an audience in Boise on Tuesday that it’s a shame anyone would have to make that choice.

“We need to change that culture,” Dawes told several hundred people who attended the Boise Metro Chamber Gala at the Boise Centre. “We need to make sure we have a healthy culture out there.”

Last week, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee defended its handling of the case against Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in 2018 for sexually assaulting gymnasts in his care.

The committee’s response came after four Olympic medalists wrote to Congress asking for the committee to be dissolved.

Dawes, a three-time Olympian, said Nassar got away with abusing hundreds of young girls “because of a toxic culture that was full of a great deal of verbal, physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse.”

“Many people, because of the medals and the money turned a blind eye to the pain that these young girls were suffering from,” Dawes, 44, said.

(Idaho Statesman)