INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — In an exclusive interview that aired Sunday night on NBC's Dateline, famed gymnastics coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi deny knowing disgraced national team doctor, Larry Nassar was sexually abusing the girls were training at their camps.
"No way," said Martha. "Everybody said Larry Nassar is a good doctor, Larry Nassar is a good guy."
The Karolyis also denied verbally abusing the girls and creating a culture of fear, as well as denying accounts of creating a culture where Nassar was able to prey on young girls, saying is just not true.
"I feel extremely bad," said Martha. "I don't feel responsible, but I feel extremely hurt that this can happen, and it happened everywhere, but it happened here also."
The Karolyis instead pointed the finger at Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics.
Eyewitness News reached out to the organization Sunday for a response. They thanked the athletes for sharing their stories and stressed the changes they've made to protect athletes.
USA Gymnastics admires the courageous women who shared their deeply personal experiences about the impact Larry Nassar had on their lives. Their powerful voices and stories will continue to be a basis for our future decisions. USA Gymnastics is sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career, and we are committed to creating a culture that empowers and supports our athletes and focuses on our highest priority, which is the safety and well-being of our athletes. We hope everything we do going forward makes this very clear.
USA Gymnastics supports and is fully cooperating with the various investigations that may shine light on how abuse of the proportion attributed to Nassar could have gone undetected for so long. USA Gymnastics first became aware that an athlete had expressed concern about a procedure by Larry Nassar in June 2015, which eventually led USA Gymnastics to report Nassar to the FBI and dismiss him from further involvement with the organization. USA Gymnastics cooperated fully with the FBI, including the agents’ request to not do anything that might interfere with the FBI’s investigation. As time passed, USA Gymnastics was concerned about a perceived lack of development and reported Nassar a second time to a different FBI office in spring 2016. USA Gymnastics denies any allegation that it had wide-ranging knowledge of abuse by Nassar or that it concealed or ignored his abuse.
The best way to honor our athletes – past, present and future – is to ensure that we do everything we can to prevent this from happening again by making bold decisions and holding ourselves to the highest standards of care.
USA Gymnastics is vigorously enforcing the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy, which requires mandatory reporting, defines six types of misconduct and abuse, sets standards to prohibit grooming behavior and prevent inappropriate interaction, and establishes greater accountability. Other efforts include instituting a dedicated, toll-free number (833-844-SAFE), safe sport email address (email@example.com), and online reporting to make the reporting process easier and simpler; building a safe sport department that is developing a comprehensive education and training program for members; and adopting bylaw amendments to provide the basis for further developing our safe sport programs and governance. Additionally, the National Gymnastics Foundation has established an Athlete Assistance Fund to provide access to counseling services for any current or former gymnast who was a member of USA Gymnastics and suffered sexual abuse within the sport of gymnastics.
Earlier this year, USA Gymnastics ceased its relationship with the Karolyi Ranch, and recently sent out a Request for Information about a new high-performance center to interested communities. A formalized orientation is held at the beginning of each training camp, reviewing the rules and regulations, including no one-on-one interaction with an adult. The women’s program provides for a chaperone for international athlete travel and camps.
USA Gymnastics is dedicated to building an empowered environment that encourages and supports our athletes, including speaking up about difficult topics. USA Gymnastics cannot do this alone. We need the member clubs, coaches, athletes, their parents, administrators and the gymnastics entire community to align their efforts to this important task. Together we can protect our athletes