USA Gymnastics chief resigns over coach furore: official

Rob Woollard
Former USA team doctor Larry Nassar was jailed for life for abusing more than 250 athletes

USA Gymnastics chief executive Kerry Perry has resigned after just nine months, a statement said Tuesday, dealing another blow to the embattled governing body as it struggles to rebuild after the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

"USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry last evening informed the board of directors that she will resign effectively immediately," a statement from the USA Gymnastics board said.

"The board has immediately begun to identify an interim CEO and is in the process of establishing a search committee to find a permanent replacement," it added.

Perry's departure caps a tumultuous week for the scandal-tainted organisation following the appointment and subsequent resignation of elite coach Mary Lee Tracy.

Tracy's appointment as elite development co-ordinator last Tuesday triggered outrage amongst victims of Nassar, the former USA team doctor who was jailed for life for abusing more than 250 athletes, including several stars of the USA's 2012 and 2016 Olympic squads.

Several former gymnasts lambasted Tracy for comments she made in late 2016 -- when the first allegations of abuse against Nassar had already begun to emerge -- in which she described the doctor as "amazing."

Olympic gold medallist Aly Raisman, who was among Nassar's victims, condemned Tracy's appointment.

"USA Gymnastics has appointed someone who, in my view, supported Nassar, victim-shamed survivors, & has shown no willingness to learn from the past," Raisman tweeted.

Tracy later defended her remarks, insisting she had been duped by Nassar and was unaware at the time of any malpractice by the serial predator.

However after Tracy later attempted to contact Raisman -- who is suing USA Gymnastics over the Nassar scandal -- she was ordered to resign by the organisation just three days after being appointed.

- Storm of criticism -

That resignation however did little to dispel the storm of criticism swirling around USA Gymnastics, with commentators wondering how the body had failed to anticipate the controversy that Tracy's appointment ultimately caused.

The United States Olympic Committee had issued a withering condemnation of USA Gymnastics late Friday, stating that leadership changes were inevitable.

"I'm afraid I can offer nothing but disappointment," USOC chief executive Hirshland said in a statement.

"Under the circumstances we feel that (USA Gymnastics) is struggling to manage its obligations effectively and it is time to consider making adjustments in the leadership.

"We are engaging with the USAG board to offer our perspective, and also our assistance, as they manage the situation."

USA Gymnastics had presided over an unprecedented period of Olympic dominance in women's gymnastics since 2012 but failed to detect Nassar's crimes in what became the biggest scandal in US Olympic history.

The scandal had already led to the departure of former USAG chief executive Steve Penny in March 2017.

US Olympic chiefs then demanded the entire board of directors be replaced in January while launching an independent investigation into the affair.

USA Gymnastics chairwoman Karen Golz said Tuesday Perry had led the organisation "under very difficult circumstances."

However she said the sport's body had made progress on the road to recovery.

"In the wake of horrific events that have impacted our athletes and the entire gymnastics community, USA Gymnastics has made progress in stabilising itself and setting a new path to ensure that the safety and interests of our athletes remains at the heart of our mission," Golz said.