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Olympian Shawn Johnson East: 'If I had a daughter…I wouldn't put her in' gymnastics

by Eun Kyung Kim / / Source: TODAY

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Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson East criticized USA Gymnastics for the way it handled multiple reports of sexual abuse from former team doctor Larry Nassar, saying the organization “failed their athletes so terribly.”

She added that if she had a daughter, she wouldn't let her take up the sport.

East, who won multiple medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, posted a video titled “I am disgusted” on her YouTube channel. She accused USA Gymnastics of caring so much about winning medals, as opposed to its athletes, that it failed to protect them, many of whom are minors, from Nassar.

The disgraced doctor pleaded guilty to numerous criminal sexual conduct charges after admitting to sexually abusing patients under the guise of medical treatment. He is currently awaiting sentencing.

“Knowing that USA Gymnastics has failed their athletes so terribly disappoints me and makes me so incredibly angry," said East, 26. "I think the fact that any of this has ever happened shows that USA Gymnastics has failed as a governing body to protect the athletes that it supports and claims to care about."

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The scandal has even made her question the sport she's loved for so long.

“I think gymnastics is the best sport in the entire world, but if I had a daughter right now, I wouldn’t put her in it, and it makes me really sad. Because I can’t even trust USA Gymnastics,” she said.

“The organization I have trusted my entire life has failed miserably, and I don’t know how to fix it, except for: Start over. Start over completely,” she added.

Shawn Johnson
Shawn Johnson won numerous medals, including gold for the balance beam, at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.Julie Jacobson / AP

East praised some of her closest friends, former teammates and numerous other women who have given victim impact statements at Nassar’s sentencing hearing.

"Know I’m praying for you. I love you. You have experienced some of the worst evil in the world. And to know you guys have a voice and standing up for so many people, just know you are my heroes,” she said.

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman was among those who delivered a powerful statement in court last week against Nassar. She and several of her Olympic teammates from the 2012 and 2016 gold medal-winning teams, including Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney, have also come forward with stories of abuse by Nassar.

On Monday, USA Gymnastics announced three longtime board of directors leaders had resigned under pressure from the Nassar scandal. But Raisman and others said the move didn't go far enough, and questioned why the entire board wasn't ousted. They also criticized the U.S. Olympic Committee for taking credit for the resignations.

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