Simone Biles shares her story of being sexually abused by USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar
Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is the latest to come forward to accuse USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, of sexual abuse. The 20-year-old gymnast described her experiences with Nassar in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday. "Most of you know me as a happy, giggly, and energetic girl," Biles began. "But lately … I’ve felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head the louder it screams."
The longtime US women's gymnastics team physician has been accused of sexually abusing over 140 women and girls under the pretense of medical treatment. He is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in a court in Michigan last year.
Biles accompanied her Twitter post with the #MeToo hashtag, which has been used to raise awareness of how common instances of sexual harassment and abuse are.
"I, too, am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar," Biles wrote. "Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper. There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story, but I know now it is not my fault."
"It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the "special" treatment. This behaviour is completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially coming from someone whom I was TOLD to trust.
For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? was it my fault?’ I now know the answer to those questions. No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others."
USA Gymnastics has faced waves of criticism over its handling of such cases of sexual abuse. Several of Biles's USA team-mates have also claimed that they have been abused by Nassar, including gold medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.
Biles stated that she was encouraged to come forward with her story after hearing those of her fellow athletes. "After hearing the brave stories of my friends and other survivors, I know that this horrific experience does not define me," she said.
"I am much more than this. I am unique, smart, talented, motivated, and passionate. I have promised myself that my story will be much greater than this and I promise all of you that I will never give up. I will compete with all of my heart and soul every time I step into the gym.
I love this sport too much and I have never been a quitter. I won’t let one man, and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy."
In spite of her experience with Nassar, Biles emphasised that she was still keen to compete at the next Olympics in her statement.
"It breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused."
In December 2017, Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison in a separate case, for possessing child pornography.
The story continues to unfold.