former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar faces at least 25 years' prison for sexual abuse.
former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar faces at least 25 years' prison for sexual abuse. Paul Sancya

Directors quit gymnastics body

THREE directors of the body in charge of gymnastics in the US have quit amid mounting outrage over the way a national team doctor was allowed to continue to abuse and assault scores of girls in his care.

USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla, vice-chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley resigned after dozens of women made emotional witness statements at the sentencing of former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Under a plea deal, Nassar faces a minimum of 25-40 years in jail.

For five days in a row, athletes abused by him - among them Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber - have confronted the 54-year-old former doctor.

Up to 120 women and girls might tell the court about the impact of Nassar's abuse.

Several top gymnasts have accused USA Gymnastics of failing to act after the abuse was reported, of being indifferent and of being slow to make changes to protect young gymnasts.

USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry said in a statement about the directors: "We support their decisions to resign at this time. We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organisation.”

In December, it was revealed that USA Gymnastics paid 2012 Olympian McKayla Maroney to stay silent about her abuse by Nassar.

USA Gymnastics has lost prominent sponsors such as Proctor & Gamble and Kellogg's.

Survivors and others have described a culture of secrecy and a solitary focus on sporting glory at USA Gymnastics.

The criminal cases against Nassar followed reports last year in The Indianapolis Star about how USA Gymnastics mishandled complaints about sexual misconduct involving the doctor and coaches.

Women and girls said the stories inspired them to step forward with detailed allegations of abuse.

Aly Raisman, a gold medalist at the 2016 Olympics, called for Mr Parilla's resignation when she went public with her own sexual abuse by Nassar.

Last week, Ms Raisman addressed Nassar in the court, saying: "I love this sport, and that love is stronger than the evil that resides in you, in those who enabled you to hurt many people.”

- Andrew Buncombe, The Independent