Gymnastics

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With a Possible Separation from the USOC, What Happens to Sanctioning of Gymnastics Events?

14 Nov, 2018

By: Michael Popke

The hits keep coming for USA Gymnastics.

As CNN.com reported Nov. 7: “The200,000-member USAG has been mired in one scandal after another [following the sentencing of former team physician Larry Nassar for sexually assaulting young gymnasts], including recent criminal charges against former employees, a revolving door of presidents and now the possible removal of USAG’s status as the U.S. governing body for the sport.”

In a statement issued on Nov. 5, Sarah Hirshland, chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee, said her organization’s decision to move toward stripping USA Gymnastics of its power as a national governing body was “not a conclusion that we have come to easily.”

“This is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions,” Hirshland said in the statement.

In a letter to the gymnastics community, Hirshland went on to say: “You deserve better,” and that the challenges USA Gymnastics faces “are simply more than it is capable of overcoming in its current form.”

Additionally, USA Gymnastics estimates it will pay between $75 million and $150 million to the survivors of the Nassar scandal.

Not surprisingly, all of this has led to questions about the sanctioning of future gymnastics events -- something likely to be preying on event owners' minds. If USA Gymnastics no longer is the sanctioning body, what organization will be? And how will events be sactioned in the coming year? Will sanctions still be valid?

Mark Jones, managing director of communications for the USOC, told Sports Destination Management that the organization hadn’t even thought of that yet. “At this stage in the process, it’s too early to say,” Jones said.

For its part, USA Gymnastics posted a “Message to the USA Gymnastics membership” on the its website Nov. 6.

“[The] news from the United States Olympic Committee is both unsettling and upsetting, especially for athletes, coaches and club owners,” it begins. “We know you have questions and concerns about what this means for you, your athletes, your gym, your invitationals, your club members.”

The statement goes on to admit that USA Gymnastics officials “don’t yet have answers to all of the questions” and then states what the organization does know. The most salient for event owners is this: Existing event sanctions are still valid and new ones are being issued. The thousands of young gymnasts who are entered in invitationals this weekend, and in the coming weeks and months, will still have the opportunity to compete.

Following are other highlights of the statement, which can be read in its entirety here.

  • USA Gymnastics is, and will continue, providing services and opportunities for our members.
  • All sanctions, member benefits, policies and services are still in place.
  • All athlete and professional memberships and educational, judging and background check certifications are still valid, and member requirements and benefits in place.
  • Member club memberships are still valid.
  • Educational courses and programs are available online and as scheduled.
  • Individual and club memberships are being processed and open to interested individuals and clubs.
  • Each discipline will continue to plan and host its events and championships.
  • To be clear, USA Gymnastics remains the recognized national governing body, including by the International Gymnastics Federation, unless or until the USOC process is concluded and a decision is made whether or not a change is necessary. 
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