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How USA Gymnastics Combats Sexual Misconduct
“If a parent suspects that his/her child has been abused, USA Gymnastics advises him/her to contact local law enforcement immediately. If they require or request assistance, USA Gymnastics will provide it and support them every step of the way.”
USA Gymnastics is proud to be recognized as a leader among the U.S. national governing bodies in dealing with sexual misconduct. USA Gymnastics takes allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously and has worked extensively to promote a safe environment for its athletes.

This is one of the most challenging issues in athletics and all youth activities. USA Gymnastics is not a law enforcement agency or agent of the court, however we frequently work with authorities in these matters and are continually evolving our organization’s processes and practices to address these challenges.

In the last 10 years, USA Gymnastics has:
  • Introduced mandatory criminal background screening for professional members;
  • Adopted a Participant Welfare Policy which outlines USA Gymnastics’ commitment to promote a safe environment, as well as the requirements and expectations of members;
  • Launched the Clubs Care and We Care educational initiatives which target clubs and parents, respectively, to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, established as a resource for parents, and partnered with national organizations (Darkness to Light, Stop It Now!, The Childhelp National Abuse Hotline, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) to provide additional resources;
  • Offering Safe Sport training at Regional and National Congresses;
  • Amended the corporation’s Bylaws to more effectively address grievances and member conduct issues;
  • Made numerous changes to membership and event sanctioning policies designed to promote and strengthen athlete welfare.
Clear Policies, Decisive Action
USA Gymnastics’ policies have evolved over the years, but have been consistent in relying on first-hand information from those directly involved to proceed with its grievance process, which expressly specifies and defines the limits of the organization’s authority. As a membership organization, this is the most reliable source to initiate a fact-based investigation, avoiding rumors and potential defamation.

Coordinating with Law Enforcement
USA Gymnastics continues to be proactive in addressing sexual misconduct in the sport and recognizes it has a duty to report to law enforcement whenever circumstances dictate, as was the case when USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny immediately initiated the report of Marvin Sharp last year.

USA Gymnastics is not a law enforcement agency or an officer of the court. We frequently work with local, state and federal authorities on these matters and will continue to do so.

Responsible Reporting
The duty to report lies with those who have first-hand knowledge, and local law enforcement has assured USA Gymnastics that it met all of its reporting requirements in the Marvin Sharp matter. Following that initial report, the organization fully supported the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, including providing necessary travel and ground support that expedited the report and promptly supplying any requested information.

USA Gymnastics' grievance process requires that a formal complaint be filed by those directly involved, or if the aggrieved party is a minor, the parent may sign the complaint. USA Gymnastics’ legal reporting practices do not start and end with only its members, but the formal USA Gymnastics grievance process (Article 10 of the Bylaws) does, and a signed complaint is necessary to activate that process. USA Gymnastics’ policy is to protect the confidentiality of all people involved in matters where misconduct has been alleged, which is considered a best practice. This limits the organization’s ability to comment on specific cases.

Each and every situation is evaluated on its individual merits, and every step in the process of investigating, verifying and resolving these matters is considered, including any associated or pending legal proceedings.

Empowering Parents
If a parent suspects that his/her child has been abused, USA Gymnastics advises him/her to contact local law enforcement immediately. If they require or request assistance, USA Gymnastics will provide it and support them every step of the way. Reporting guidelines can be found by clicking here

Continually Re-Evaluating Policies and Procedures
USA Gymnastics prioritizes and continues to address these challenging societal issues, frequently re-evaluating its policies and procedures. During the last decade, USA Gymnastics has introduced a number of initiatives to better educate the gymnastics community on implementing best practices in promoting a safe environment. These proactive measures have contributed to changes throughout the Olympic movement, including policy development, educational initiatives and an effective means to address allegations of abuse that are brought to the organization’s attention.

Membership Bans
Since the Board of Directors approved the idea in 1990, USA Gymnastics has maintained and publicly displayed a list of individuals who have been banned from its membership. When USA Gymnastics terminates the membership of a coach or professional member, that individual is permanently ineligible for membership. This lifetime ban means the individual does not have any rights or privileges associated with membership in USA Gymnastics, including, but not limited to, participation in any event conducted or sanctioned by USA Gymnastics or even being associated with a member club.

USA Gymnastics is a membership organization, and the termination of membership, the publication of that termination and the imposition of a lifetime ban on participation in sanctioned events and at member clubs are the most serious actions available to it. USA Gymnastics' jurisdiction does not extend to the business affairs of gymnastics coaches or clubs.

Operating within the U.S. Olympic Committee
As a National Governing Body (NGB), USA Gymnastics must operate within the U.S. Olympic Committee framework, and its governance model is mandated by the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act of 1978. This federal statute outlines specific parameters regarding the powers of NGBs, including the requirement to provide certain rights to which all members of a NGB are entitled as a matter of law.

Creating the U.S. Center for Safe Sport
USA Gymnastics has been deeply involved in the creation of the recently formed U.S. Center for Safe Sport. The advantage of this new independent agency, which was formed by the USOC, is the creation and application of a consistent set of principles and guidelines for all of the NGBs to address and resolve allegations of sexual misconduct. Once the U.S. Center for Safe Sport is operational (tentatively in January 2017), all sexual misconduct allegations and complaints received by any NGB must be forwarded to the Center for handling and resolution.