‘I thought I was going to die’ – US Olympic champion gymnast on doctor’s ‘systematic sexual abuse’
US gymnast McKayla Maroney, a part of the London 2012 winning squad, has claimed she suffered ‘systematic sexual abuse’ at the hands of disgraced former US team doctor Larry Nassar.
Inspired by the #MeToo movement, a campaign encouraging women to speak up to share their experiences of sexual harassment, Maroney decided to reveal her own story of abuse, which she claims began when she was 13.
In a Twitter post published on Wednesday, the former vaulter claimed Nassar sexually abused her for 7 years, from the Texas training camp when she was just 13 up to her retirement from professional sport in 2016.
“It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was ‘treated,’” Maroney wrote. “It happened in London before my team and I won the gold medal, and it happened before I won my silver.”
The former gymnast said the “scariest” abuse took place in the lead-up to the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, where she won two golds – in the team and vault finals.
“For me, the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old. I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo,” Maroney wrote.
“He’d given me a sleeping pill for the flight, and the next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’"
"I thought I was going to die that night.”
Maroney helped the US women’s squad to take their maiden Olympic team gold in London by vaulting an immaculate Amanar in the team final.
She had been the favorite to clinch an individual apparatus title, but fell on her second vault and finished second to Romania’s Sandra Izbasa.
Nassar, who worked for nearly 30 years as the US gymnastics team doctor, is now in prison awaiting trial in Michigan after admitting possessing child abuse images.
He signed an agreement to plead guilty to child pornography charges on condition he will not be prosecuted for alleged sexual abuse cases.
The scandal came to light when Jamie Dantzscher, a member of the US 2000 Olympic squad, filed a lawsuit against USA Gymnastics and Nassar last fall in which she claimed the former team doctor systematically harassed the gymnasts.
Testimony on Nassar’s crimes led to the resignation of USA Gymnastics head Steve Penny in March, following an investigation by the Indianapolis Star that uncovered 368 cases of alleged sexual abuse over the past 20 years.