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Gymnasts propose changes to guard athletes from sexual abuse

October 12, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Nearly a dozen gymnasts have banded together and renewed their call for stronger policies to protect young athletes from sexual abuse.

Former Olympians believe changes are needed to protect young athletes from abuse. | Photo: Pierre-Yves Beaudouin
Former Olympians believe changes are needed to protect young athletes from abuse. | Photo: Pierre-Yves Beaudouin

The group includes former Olympian Jessica Armstrong, who said she proposed changes to USA Gymnastics’ policies in 2012 but heard no response from the organization. USA Gymnastics told The Indianapolis Star that it never received Armstrong’s email, but it’s always considering ways to improve its policies.

Armstrong was sexually abused by her gymnastics coach and later discovered that the coach was still working with children. That prompted her to push for changes.

From The Indianapolis Star:

Four years ago, Armstrong and New York-based attorney Jenny Spiegel, also a former gymnast, developed a detailed proposal to strengthen the national governing body’s bylaws and policies and close loopholes they believe enabled sexual predators to remain involved with the sport.

Among Armstrong and Spiegel’s recommendations:

• Clubs be required rather than encouraged to adopt policies and procedures designed to prevent sexual misconduct and agree to be subject to USA Gymnastics jurisdiction.

• Establish an abuse reporting hotline so parents and athletes can discuss concerns and make anonymous complaints.

• Extend the jurisdiction of USA Gymnastics to include all personnel, including volunteers, at member gyms.

The coalition of former gymnasts claims that USA Gymnastics has brushed off sexual abuse claims by athletes. They believe the proposed changes would force the organization to take allegations seriously.

Click here to read the complete story.


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