Friday, August 12, 2016

Routinely Abused: The nastiness of gymnastics

Gymnastics is an ugly sport.

It's bad enough that many young women gymnasts are mentally and physically abused, many ending up with anorexia, bulimia and depression. It's bad enough that it's sexualized and sexist, male uniforms designed to highlight the arms and shoulders, female uniforms the legs and crotch.

But now it comes to light that the US gymnastics program is as full of sexual abusers as the catholic cult, and those who run the US gymnastics program are just as willing to cover up and protect those who rape young girls.  And considering that gymnastics wants only teenage girls, that "nineteen is too old", it says a lot about the mentalities of those in charge.
Dave Hannigan: Sinister story lies hidden beneath a sport that enthrals America

In October, 1998, USA Gymnastics received a fax regarding a coach named Bill McCabe. Over six pages, Florida gym owner Jan Giunipero outlined a litany of disturbing allegations made against McCabe at nine different facilities and urged that parents and children be made aware of his proclivities. One year later, Dan Dickey, another gym owner, wrote to USA Gymnastics about an incident involving McCabe and a 15-year-old cheerleader and stated that he should be “locked in a cage before someone is raped”. Around that time, McCabe began regularly abusing at least one under-age gymnast in his charge.
The baffling failure to act on the information furnished to them about McCabe (on four different occasions by different people), was apparently par for the course with USA Gymnastics when it came to abusive coaches. That is the only conclusion to be drawn from a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Indianapolis Star, the largest newspaper in Indiana where the sport is headquartered. For those who have lived through the Catholic Church and USA and Irish swimming debacles, the narrative is all too depressingly familiar. 
Although USA Gymnastics refused to confirm how many allegations it receives annually, the Indianapolis Star learned the governing body has complaint dossiers on over 50 coaches that it, literally, keeps in a drawer. The newspaper unearthed evidence of four particular cases (including one former national coach of the year) that followed the same troubling pattern. Accusations were allowed to gather dust for years as at least 14 underage gymnasts were abused.

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