Statement from USA Gymnastics Board Chairman Paul Parilla and CEO Steve Penny
posted on 02/16/2017

“USA Gymnastics cares deeply for our athletes of all skill levels and ages. They are the heart and soul of our sport, and their health and well-being comes before all else. We believe one instance of child abuse – whether at a school, church or gym – is one too many, and we are saddened when any child has been harmed during his or her athletic career. We work every day to help young people fulfill their potential in a safe environment, and keeping them safe requires as much diligence and attention as training for competition.

“Regarding Dr. Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics is appalled that anyone would exploit a young athlete or child in the manner alleged. When USA Gymnastics first learned of athlete concerns regarding Dr. Nassar in the summer of 2015, the organization acted without hesitation. We hired an investigator who interviewed athletes, which led USA Gymnastics to report Dr. Nassar to the FBI. We then removed him from any further assignments. During the course of the FBI investigation, USA Gymnastics cooperated fully including facilitating interviews and adhering to the FBI’s request not to take any action that would interfere with the Bureau’s investigation.

“Keeping athletes safe requires sustained vigilance by everyone – coaches, athletes, parents, administrators and officials – and there is more work to be done. We are determined to strengthen standards throughout the sport.

“USA Gymnastics has engaged Deborah J. Daniels, a former federal prosecutor, to conduct a comprehensive independent review of USA Gymnastics’ bylaws, policies, procedures and practices related to these issues. She is expected to make her recommendations to the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors in the second quarter of 2017.

“The USA Gymnastics Board of Directors has also established a Policy Review Panel to address modifications to our existing programs, policies and processes. This panel’s efforts complement Daniels’ independent review, and it will work closely with USA Gymnastics staff to ensure the organization takes the appropriate steps to fully implement recommendations, policy changes and governance matters while moving forward with refining its practices. This is especially important given the emerging U.S. Center for Safe Sport and its requirements for compliance.

“USA Gymnastics supports the development of the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, an independent agency established to oversee Safe Sport in the USA, similar to how the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency oversees anti-doping in our country. We are hopeful that this new agency, which is expected to open within weeks, will provide important leadership on Safe Sport and support for the entire U.S. Olympic movement.

“Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics than protecting young people. Their health and well-being is our priority, and USA Gymnastics is committed to doing everything we can to promote a safe environment for athletes.”

Please see the following for a detailed timeline reflecting events the summer of 2015 and early 2016.

USA Gymnastics timeline regarding reporting Dr. Nassar

  • June 17, 2015. Sr. Vice President of Women’s Program Rhonda Faehn first learned of an athlete’s concern when a coach called her. Rhonda immediately phoned USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny, who was returning home from a pre-Olympic site visit in Rio de Janeiro.
  • June 18-20. Steve Penny spoke to the coach who contacted Rhonda Faehn, and spoke with the athlete’s mother.
  • June 21-July 2. USA Gymnastics identified an experienced female investigator and worked with the athlete’s family to coordinate appropriate timing for an interview.
  • July 3. The investigator and the athlete’s mother were connected to arrange a date and time for the in-person interview, based on their schedules.
  • July 11. The investigator met with the athlete. After the interview, the investigator recommended conducting additional in-person athlete interviews, which took place over the next two weeks.
  • July 24 (Friday). When the investigator completed the recommended interviews, she reported to USA Gymnastics that it would be appropriate to notify law enforcement and report Dr. Nassar.
  • July 27 (Monday). USA Gymnastics contacted the Indianapolis FBI office and a meeting was scheduled for July 28.
  • July 28. Steve Penny, then Vice-Chairman Paul Parilla and USA Gymnastics legal counsel met with the FBI, which assured USA Gymnastics that the FBI was the appropriate agency to make the report and that USA Gymnastics had handled the matter correctly. At that time, USA Gymnastics provided the FBI with contact information for the athletes and their families. USA Gymnastics offered to assist the FBI with any necessary support, including facilitating interviews, and notified families that we had contacted law enforcement.
  • July 29. USA Gymnastics relieved Dr. Nassar of any further assignments.

USA Gymnastics understood from its meeting with the FBI that it should not take any action nor communicate anything that might interfere with the FBI’s investigation. After our initial report to the FBI in July 2015, USA Gymnastics remained in contact with the Indianapolis bureau and understands that the FBI contacted one or more athletes. USA Gymnastics later learned the FBI had transferred the matter to another jurisdiction. As time passed, USA Gymnastics became concerned that it had not received any updates about the investigation. Board Chairman Paul Parilla contacted the FBI’s LA Bureau in April 2016. Paul Parilla and Steve Penny then met with two agents with the Los Angeles bureau in early May. USA Gymnastics continued its cooperation with the FBI following this meeting. During this process, USA Gymnastics respected the privacy of the athletes involved in this matter.