By Steve Keating
(Reuters) – The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) said on Thursday it had reached a consensus on recommendations to USA Gymnastics in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal but would not say what they were.
USOC chairman Larry Probst said there was “a very thoughtful, lengthy and detailed conversation”, with the board of directors regarding the USA Gymnastics situation but revealed few other details.
It is believed that the discussion centred on USA Gymnastics’ embattled president Steve Penny and his future with the organisation for his handling of the scandal centred on a former team doctor Larry Nassar, who is currently in custody facing child pornography and sexual abuse charges.
“There were a variety of points of view expressed (and) at the end of that discussion we reached a consensus point of view,” said Probst during a conference call dominated by questions about the controversy.
“We have communicated that to the chairman of USA Gymnastics and obviously they need some time to consider the feedback and input we provided to them and we look forward to a response from them in the appropriate time frame.”
The USOC said no specific time frame had been given for USA Gymnastics to respond, saying only it hopes it takes place sooner rather than later.
Asked to clarify if the discussion was about Penny and his tenure as president, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was evasive.
“I don’t think we want to get into any of the details of the recommendation that we made,” said Blackmun.
The USOC cannot order the removal of Penny from his position but could force USA Gymnastics to bend to its will by cutting funding or even decertifying the federation.
“I don’t think we want to speculate on what the board might want to do,” said Blackmun. “Obviously if USA Gymnastics come back and wants to head in a substantially different direction we will report that to our board and see where they want to go with it.
Nassar, once a team doctor for Olympians at USA Gymnastics and a former employee at Michigan State University, is also under investigation by Michigan authorities who say they have
received more than 50 complaints of sexual abuse by the doctor.
Nassar is accused of treating hip, leg, back and ankle injuries with what he called “inter-vaginal adjustments” that involved digital penetration without the consent of the athletes or their parents.
USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla issued a statement saying that the organisation shares the USOC’s commitment to providing a safe environment for all athletes.
“USA Gymnastics has initiated a comprehensive, thorough and independent examination of our requirements, mandates and procedures in this area and we expect this review will identify
ways to strengthen our program and better protect youth,” said Parilla.
“The USA Gymnastics Board of Directors will convene shortly and work to determine next steps.”
(Editing by Andrew Both)