© USA Gymnastics

INDIANAPOLIS, June 6, 2012 – As part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to promote a safe environment for athletes, the Board of Directors of USA Gymnastics recently adopted further policy changes regarding athlete participation in USA Gymnastics-sanctioned events. Effective August 2012, the beginning of the next membership cycle, only member clubs of USA Gymnastics may apply for membership on behalf of an athlete. In addition, only member clubs may enter a team of athletes in USA Gymnastics-sanctioned events.

"USA Gymnastics has the safety of our athletes as our top priority," said Peter Vidmar, USA Gymnastics chairman. "USA Gymnastics has continued down the path of strengthening our athlete registration policies, and we believe this is one step further in promoting a safe environment for our athletes."

"We have been conducting our due diligence on this policy change and believe it is an important step," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "USA Gymnastics will continue to take a proactive approach to creating policy in this area and work diligently with our club owners to promote a safe environment for gymnasts."

USA Gymnastics member clubs agree to follow a number of policies, including implementing recommendations from the Participant Welfare Policy; certifying that no persons permanently ineligible for USA Gymnastics membership – which includes convicted sex offenders and/or persons on the permanently ineligible for membership list – are or will be associated with the club or its activities in any way during the club’s membership period; and employing at least one staff member who holds a current, certified professional membership (or a certified instructor for a recreational facility).

The new policies regarding athlete participation in USA Gymnastics-sanctioned events are listed below.

  • Only member clubs may apply for membership in USA Gymnastics on behalf of an athlete. If an athlete who is not affiliated with a member club wants to apply for membership in USA Gymnastics, he/she (or his/her parent/guardian if the athlete is under the age of 18) must apply directly to USA Gymnastics for such membership. His/her status will be "unaffiliated athlete."

  • Only member clubs may register a team of athletes into sanctioned events. If an athlete who is not affiliated with a member club wants to register for a sanctioned event, he/she (or his/her parent/guardian if the athlete is under the age of 18) must register as an "unaffiliated athlete." An unaffiliated athlete will be permitted to participate in the event as an individual and is eligible to win individual awards.

  • An unaffiliated athlete will not be permitted to participate in the event as a member of any team. As such, he/she is not eligible to win team awards and is not permitted to wear any apparel that refers to a gym, coach, team, or other group which is not recognized as a member club of USA Gymnastics.

Adopting this policy is in addition to the steps USA Gymnastics already has taken to promote a safe environment for its athletes. Among the practices and policies in place are:

  • Participant Welfare Policy – provides guidance on how clubs, coaches and parents can work together to provide a safe environment, as well as requirements and expectations of USA Gymnastics’ members. The topics covered in the policy, which may be read in its entirety at www.usagym.org/welfare, include: definitions of abuse used by USA Gymnastics for both physical and sexual abuse; reporting procedures and requirements for suspected abuse; misconduct/grievance procedures; member obligations and recommendations, as well as staff; standards of behavior; and education and communication about the policy to members and the general public.

  • Event sanctions. The only clubs and organizations eligible to receive an event sanction from USA Gymnastics or to host a USA Gymnastics-affiliated activity are either a member club.

  • Mandatory criminal background screening and safety/risk management certification for professional members – background screening is renewed every two years; safety/risk management screening is renewed every four years.

  • Code of Ethics – offers general principles to guide the conduct, and the judicious appraisal of conduct, of all USA Gymnastics’ members (including employees and agents of USA Gymnastics) in situations that have ethical implications.

  • Published list of individuals banned from membership in USA Gymnastics – posted on the website and printed in both magazines. This lifetime ban means the individual does not have any of the rights or privileges associated with membership in USA Gymnastics, including but not limited to participation in any event conducted or sanctioned by USA Gymnastics. Beginning in 2012, once a final decision has been rendered to bar an individual from membership, not only will the person’s name and state be posted on the permanently ineligible for membership list, but also which of the Corporation’s Bylaws, rules, regulations or policies was violated. (This action only applies to matters investigated after the adoption of this subsection.).

  • Bylaws changes. Changes to the Bylaws, including Articles 9 and 10 that deal with Member Misconduct and Disciplinary Proceedings and Grievances, improve policies and avoid any ambiguity in the procedures. The most significant changes included an expanded definition of misconduct; delineated types of complaints; clarification of who can file a grievance; and providing additional information on the permanently ineligible list.

  • Sanctioning policy. USA Gymnastics expanded its sanction policy to ensure that all meet directors and the club(s), independent organization(s), and/or committee(s) are member clubs of USA Gymnastics.

Pertinent USA Gymnastics links