USA Gymnastics creates Athlete Task Force after abuse scandal

Larry Nassar sits with his attorney Matt Newburg as he is sentenced by Judge Janice Cunningham for three counts of criminal sexual assault in Eaton County Circuit Court on February 5, 2018 in Charlotte, Michigan

USA Gymnastics announced Friday the creation of an athlete task force to give competitors a voice as the troubled governing body attempts to rebuild following the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal.

Members of the task force will include Ivana Hong and Steven Legendre from gymnastics, Shenea Booth from acrobatic gymnastics, Jazzy Kerber from rhythmic gymnastics and Leigh Hennessy Robson from tumbling and trampoline.

"My sole purpose in participating in the athlete task force is to provide insight from a victim and survivor's perspective," Booth said.

"Atoning for the past is going to be a daily journey for USA Gymnastics as a whole in its efforts to transform its mission, ethos, and commitments to the athletes.

"Through extensive safety education, progressive policy enforcement, and expanding of athlete funding, I hope we are able to ensure the safety and well-being of all athletes for generations to come."

Former national team doctor Nassar was accused of sexual assault under the guise of treatment by more than 265 women, many of them former US Olympians. He is serving a 60-year prison sentence for child pornography and has pleaded guilty to 10 charges of sexual assault.

As a result of his actions, USA Gymnastics cut ties to the Karolyi Ranch training area where Olympians prepared and worked under the guidance of former national team coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi.

The athletes task force will be involved in seeking a new high-performance training facility, mentoring and safe sport educational initiatives.

"Athletes are the heart and soul of our organization and the task force will provide important perspective and guidance for making informed decisions and transforming our culture to one of empowerment, especially for athletes," said USA Gymnastics president Kerry Perry.

They also hope to be a stabilizing agent as the organization, under new leadership with higher profile safety regulations, tries to recover from the sex abuse scandal.

"The need for change hit the gymnastics community hard last year, creating a powerful moment with tremendous expectations and opportunities," Robson said. "We have a chance to make an impact."

Larry Nassar sits with his attorney Matt Newburg as he is sentenced by Judge Janice Cunningham for three counts of criminal sexual assault in Eaton County Circuit Court on February 5, 2018 in Charlotte, Michigan