Simone Biles was in tears as she spoke about the anger and disappointment she feels about the handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. It is just over 18 months since the Olympic gymnastics champion revealed she was among the hundreds of athletes abused by Nassar, the USA Gymnastics’ disgraced sports doctor, who abused dozens of athletes in his care.
While Nassar is now behind bars for the rest of his life and USA Gymnastics has undergone a massive overhaul in leadership, the mental scars remain fresh for Biles. She became emotional as she was asked about the scandal on Wednesday.
“I don’t mean to cry,” the usually poised Biles said two days before attempting to win her sixth US national title. “But it’s hard coming here for an organization having had them fail us so many times. And we had one goal and we’ve done everything that they’ve asked us for, even when we didn’t want to and they couldn’t do one damn job. You had one job. You literally had one job and you couldn’t protect us.”
The 22-year-old still finds herself working under the banner of USA Gymnastics and by extension the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Both organizations were called out by Congress along with the FBI last week in a scathing report that detailed a series of catastrophic missteps that allowed Nassar, a longtime trainer with USA Gymnastics as well as Michigan State University, to continue to abuse patients even after athletes started questioning his methods in the summer of 2015.
Biles is in therapy to help deal with the emotional fallout of the Nassar case, and she is aware that progress will be slow and that a full recovery may not be possible. “Everyone’s healing process is different and I think that’s the hardest part,” she said. “Because I feel like maybe I should be healed or this or that. But I feel like it will be an open wound for a really long time and it might not ever get closed or healed.”
On Sunday, Biles tweeted that USA Gymnastics and the USOC had “failed” athletes. She said she would continue to speak out. “When we tweet, it obviously goes a long way,” she said. “We’re blessed to be given a platform so that people will hear and listen. But you know, it’s not easy coming back to the sport. Coming back to the organization that has failed you. But you know, at this point, I just try to think, ‘I’m here as a professional athlete with my club team and stuff like that.’ Because it’s not easy being out here. I feel every day is a reminder of what I went through and what I’ve been through and what I’m going through and how I’ve come out of it.”
Biles said that her lack of trust in the USOC and USA Gymnastics means she is still hesitant when meeting new members of staff. “How can we trust them?” Biles said. “They bring in new people all the time and I automatically put my foot up because the people that I had known for years had failed us.”
Biles is training for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, where she hopes to add to the four gold medals she won at the Rio Games in 2016.