Accusers ask US Olympic Committee to decertify USA Gymnastics

More than 50 alleged victims of Larry Nassar, USA gymnastics' team doctor from 1996 to 2015, have filed lawsuits against USA Gymnastics in state and federal courts

An attorney representing more than 70 women gymnasts who say a national team doctor sexually abused them called upon the US Olympic Committee (USOC) on Thursday to decertify USA Gymnastics as the sport's governing body.

The move by lawyer John Manly came as the USOC board of directors met in Los Angeles on Thursday and after USA Today reported that two unnamed USOC officials want USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny to resign so the organization can move beyond the scandal.

"The reasons for our request for the decertification of USA Gymnastics by the USOC are straightforward, clear and indeed required under federal law," Manly said in a statement.

"Without question, the serial rape and molestation of hundreds of girls, by coaches, trainers and other USA Gymnastics' staff materially inhibits these women's ability to participate in their sport and is discriminatory.

"If that is not enough to justify the decertification of USA Gymnastics, then what is?"

Asked on Twitter what such a move would mean, 1996 US Olympic gold medal gymnastics team member Dominique Moceanu -- who at 14 was the youngest Olympic gold medalist ever -- replied, "It means it's a clean slate. Everybody goes ... USOC appoints new governing body."

More than 50 alleged victims of Larry Nassar have filed lawsuits against USA Gymnastics in state and federal courts. Nassar, the national team doctor from 1996 to 2015, is in jail after being charged with criminal sexual conduct with a pre-teen and violating federal child pornography laws.

Nassar, who is jailed in Michigan, was charged last month on 36 counts of criminal sexual conduct.

He has denied the claims by former US gymnasts, saying he only provided proper medical treatments.

Manly called the notion of Penny's resignation being a sufficient punishment "too little too late."

While the USOC cannot fire Penny, it can bring pressure upon USA Gymnastics, whose board can dismiss Penny, who officials told USA Today had failed to immediately report sex abuse allegations against Nassar brought to his attention in 2015.

In a letter to USOC president Larry Probst, Manly said the 80 criminal allegations of sexual abuse pending against Nassar are "despicable."

"USOC has an obligation to act and demanding the resignation of Mr. Penny is clearly not enough. This is an organization that has no credibility when it comes to child protection. USA Gymnastics needs to be held accountable and reorganized from top to bottom.

"While the call for Mr. Penny's resignation is long overdue and applauded, Mr. Penny is only a symptom of this endemic problem. The entire USA Gymnastics' leadership and management shares the blame for this failure.

"If the wholesale rape of hundreds of children because of organizational culture and indifference is not enough, then respectfully, what is?"

- Profits above gymnasts -

More than 5,600 pages of USA Gymnastics documents released by a Georgia judge for an Indianapolis Star investigation of the Indianapolis-based sports governing body revealed USA Gymnastics did not ban coaches for several years even though they had been convicted of sex crimes against children.

Moceanu, 35, told the Indianapolis Star last week that Penny should resign for "dereliction of duty."

"There's a history of this alleged negligence on this topic," she said. "Time and time again he has been at the forefront of ignoring it."

Moceanu said she was not sexually abused but in 2008 claimed coaches emotionally and psychologically abused her and said the treatment she received after speaking out may have discouraged others from coming forward.

"The image and the reputation was placed above abusive actions," she told the Star. "And that's where the problem lies. You cannot put the reputation and the financial dollars ahead of the gymnasts' well being."

USA Gymnastics has defended their actions and cited new child protection rules and policies enacted in recent years to help support athletes.

"The safety and wellbeing of our athletes is the highest priority of USA Gymnastics," the organization said in a statement.