US gymnast Simone Biles has given an emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, who are investigating the handling of the FBI’s investigation into Larry Nassar.
In 2017, former USA Gymnastics team doctor Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison after he was accused of sexual abuse by more than 330 women and girls.
Earlier this year, a report into the investigation of the abuse case found numerous missteps and cover-ups by FBI agents, which allowed Nassar to continue his abuse for months after the allegations were made.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Dick Durbin, will examine what led to the failure of the FBI investigation in order to "prevent future, similar tragedies".
Biles testified before the Committee alongside fellow Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney. All three suffered abuse at the hands of Nassar.
Former gymnast Maggie Nichols, the first victim to report the abuse to USA Gymnastics and known as "Athlete A", also testified.
Biles was the first to give her testimony. In her speech, the 24-year-old was overcome with emotion and was invited to take a moment to compose herself. Once she had done so, she said:
"–To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee knew that I was abused by their official team doctor long before I was ever made aware of their knowledge.
"In May of 2015, Rhonda Faehn, the former head of USA Gymnastics women’s program was told by my friend and teammate, Maggie Nichols, that she suspected I too was a victim.
"I didn’t understand the magnitude of what all was happening until the Indianapolis Star published its article in the fall of 2016, entitled ‘Former USA gymnastics doctor accused of abuse.
"Yet, while I was a member of the 2016 US Olympic team, neither USAG, USOPC, nor the FBI ever contacted me or my parents, while others have been informed and investigations were ongoing, I had been left to wonder why I was not told until after the Rio Games.
"This is the largest case of sexual abuse in the history of American sport and although, there have been a fully independent investigation of the FBI’s handling of the case, neither USAG, nor USOPC, have ever been made the subject of the same level of scrutiny.
"These are the entities entrusted with the protection of our sport and our athletes. And yet it feels like questions of responsibility and organisational failures remain unanswered."
Biles added: "I sit before you today to raise my voice to that, so no little girl must endure what I, the athletes at this table and the countless others who needlessly suffered under Nassar’s guise of medical treatment, which we continue to endure today.
"We suffered and continue to suffer because no one at FBI, USAG or the USOPC did what was necessary to protect us. We have been failed and we deserve answers."
Biles rose to prominence during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, when she earned four gold medals and a bronze. With a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals to her name, she is tied as the most decorated gymnast of all time.
The American star was once again expected to take the Olympic stage by storm at Tokyo 2020, but she withdrew midway through the all-around team event due to a "mental issue".
Biles then pulled out of the all-around, vault, floor and uneven bars to focus on her mental health, showing remarkable courage to return and earn a bronze medal in the balance beam.
In her testimony, Biles suggested her struggles at Tokyo 2020 could be attributed to the abuse inflicted on her by Nassar.
"The scars of this horrific abuse continue to live with all of us," she said. "As the lone competitor at the recent Tokyo Games who was a survivor of this horror, I can assure you that the impacts of this man’s abuse are not ever over or forgotten.
"The announcement in the spring of 2020 that the Tokyo Games were to be postponed for a year meant that I would be going to the gym to training, to therapy, living daily among the reminders of this story for another 365 days.
"As I have stated in the past, one thing that helped me push each and every day was the goal of not allowing this crisis to be ignored. I worked incredibly hard to make sure that my presence could maintain a connection between the failures and the competition at Tokyo 2020.
"That has proven to be an exceptionally difficult burden for me to carry, particularly when required to travel to Tokyo, without the support of any of my family.
"I am a strong individual and I will persevere, but I never should have been left alone to suffer the abuse of Larry Nassar. And the only reason I did was because of the failures that lie at the heart of the abuse that you are now asked to investigate."News Now - Sport News