USOC statement regarding action to revoke USA Gymnastics' recognition as member National Governing Body:
The following statement is attributable to USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland:
“Today the United States Olympic Committee has filed a complaint initiating a Section 8 proceeding against USA Gymnastics, seeking to revoke USAG’s recognition as a member National Governing Body of the USOC. This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions. Seeking to revoke recognition is not a conclusion that we have come to easily. In the short-term, we have to work to ensure that USAG gymnasts have the support necessary to excel on and off the field of play. We are building plans to do just that. In the long-term, it will be the critically important responsibility of the recognized Gymnastics NGB, whether the existing organization or a new one, to lead gymnastics in the United States and build on the supportive community of athletes and clubs that can carry the sport forward for decades to come. We are prepared to identify and help build such an organization.”
To all USAG gymnasts and the gymnastics community in the United States:
You began your journey in the sport of gymnastics for dozens of different reasons, but all of them trace back to gymnastics, and sport, being a positive influence in your life. It is supposed to be fun, to challenge you, and to teach you lessons about dedication, teamwork, excellence and overcoming adversity.
And while each of you has overcome adversity in different ways, some facing unimaginably terrible situations, everyone now faces the difficult reality of belonging to a national organization that continues to struggle to change its culture, to rebuild its leadership and to effectively serve its membership.
You deserve better.
So today I’m writing to let you know that the United States Olympic Committee has taken the first steps to revoke USA Gymnastics’ recognition as the National Governing Body for gymnastics in the United States and offered USA Gymnastics the option of surrendering its recognition voluntarily.
You might be asking why now? The short answer is that we believe the challenges facing the organization are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form. We have worked closely with the new USAG board over recent months to support them, but despite diligent effort, the NGB continues to struggle. And that’s not fair to gymnasts around the country. Even weeks ago, I hoped there was a different way forward. But we now believe that is no longer possible.
You should know that revocation is subject to a process clearly outlined in the USOC Bylaws, and that process does not guarantee a particular outcome.
You’re no doubt wondering what this means for you and the gymnastics community. Until the process is completed and a final determination on USAG’s status is made, we will work to ensure that gymnastics training and competitions will continue as usual. I do not know how long the process will take, and we will make every effort to proceed quickly.
So I don’t have a perfect answer today. This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions. Seeking to revoke recognition is not a decision that we have come to easily, but I believe it is the right action. In the short-term, we will work to ensure that America’s gymnasts have the support necessary to excel on and off the field of play. We are building plans to do just that no matter the outcome of the revocation process.
In the long-term, it will be the critically important responsibility of the recognized Gymnastics NGB, whether the existing organization or a new one, to lead gymnastics in the United States and rebuild a supportive community of athletes and clubs that can carry the sport forward for decades to come. We are prepared to identify and help build such an organization.
So, what’s next?
Strictly speaking, there is a process that must be followed based on the USOC Bylaws that lay out how we recognize, and revoke recognition, for an NGB. We have filed a complaint. A review panel will be identified, a hearing will be held, a report will be issued and a recommendation will be made. Then the USOC board will vote to continue to recognize USAG, or to revoke that status.
But that doesn’t really answer the meat of the question. You need to know what happens to gymnasts and your clubs if USA Gymnastics’ membership is revoked by the USOC. We are developing both a short- and longer-term plan and will communicate it as soon as we can.
The clearest answer I can provide is that gymnastics as a sport will remain a bedrock for the Olympic community in the United States. Young people will continue to participate, refine their techniques and have fun. Our Team USA athletes will continue to inspire us through their incredible accomplishments. We will ensure support for the Olympic hopefuls who may represent us in Tokyo in 2020.
And, over time, gymnastics clubs around the country may become members of a new organization that lives up to the expectations of the athletes and those that support them, their parents included. This would take time and a lot of hard work from many of us, and many of you. I know that collectively, we are up to the task should that assignment be given at the outcome of this process.
Today is only the beginning of an important process for gymnastics in the United States. The path is not crystal clear, but our motives are. So, we move forward, committed to ensuring the type of organization each gymnast and the coaches, trainers and club owners who support them, deserves.
Thank you for your support, and your contributions, as we collectively chart our path forward. And please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with your ideas and suggestions. I have set up an email address where you can reach me and my team. It is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chief Executive Officer