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Is Nassar abuse scandal overshadowing Olympics?

Rollins Terry, R3 Editor-in-Chief

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While the beginning of the Olympic Games is typically commemorated with torch ceremonies and shiny new uniforms, these traditions have been rightfully overshadowed this year by courtroom attacks, private investigations and accusations in the wake of the scandal involving Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor and assistant professor at Michigan State University.
While the past year has been characterized by increased awareness of sexual harassment and abuse, with the launch of the “Me Too” movement and allegations against Hollywood stars like Harvey Weinstein, the case against Nassar is distinctly troubling in both its sheer magnitude—there are currently 265 women who claim he sexually assaulted them—and its origins, as Nassar allegedly began abusing most of these girls when they were hopeful young athletes who trusted him as their doctor.
Moreover, there are reports that the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics had information about this behavior in 2015 and didn’t intervene, which would have allowed Nassar to continue practicing medicine—and abusing patients—at MSU.
Last Friday, the USOC announced that it would be launching its own private investigation into the Nassar scandal, to find out whether USA Gymnastics or the USOC first gained evidence of Nassar’s abuse, and what they did with such evidence. The 2018 Winter Olympics will continue, but these games have taken a backseat to the scandal, especially as many within the gymnastics community feel that the organizations didn’t do enough for their athletes.
“It has completely changed my perspective of U.S. gymnastics,” said WHS senior gymnast Nicole Dispenza. “A sport that seemed to be very put together and professional is the complete opposite. I think after this, USA Gymnastics is going to have to do a lot to make up for what has happened. They are going to have to regain the trust of athletes, viewers and coaches.”
Sophomore gymnast Ashley Amman added: “I believe that the Olympics should have done more to prevent things like this from occurring when athletes are so young and have so much pressure on them. As I watched the Olympics years ago, I obviously had no idea about Larry Nassar and all that the girls were dealing with while performing in such an important meet.”
While the games go on, the repercussions of Nassar’s crimes will continue to follow the USOC in court and in the public eye. And for many spectators—gymnasts and non-gymnasts alike—this case will taint their perception of the game they once loved.

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