Simone Biles tries not to think about what happened to her and so many of her teammates while Larry Nassar was the team doctor for USA Gymnastics.
But that’s often difficult, especially at times like this week as she prepares to compete for the organization at the U.S gymnastics championships in Kansas City, Mo.
“It’s not easy coming back to the sport, coming back to the organization that has failed you,” the four-time Olympic gold medalist told reporters after her training session Wednesday night. “It’s not easy being out here. I feel every day is a reminder of what I went through and what I’ve been through and what I’m going through and how I’ve come out of it. I try just not to think about it.”
Hundreds of gymnasts have accused Nassar of sexual abuse under the guise of medical treatment while he worked for USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic team and Michigan State. He is now in prison and will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty to charges of sexual assault and possession of child pornography.
In January 2018, Biles revealed in a tweet that she was one of the “many survivors” of Nassar’s abuse. As she spoke about the matter days before competing for her sixth U.S. title, Biles showed a wide range of emotions, breaking down in tears at one point and raising her voice in anger at another.
“It’s hard to talk about. It’s really hard to talk about. I just feel like ... I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t mean to cry. But it’s hard coming here for an organization having had them fail us so many times. And we had one goal and we’ve done everything that they’ve asked us for, even when we didn’t want to, and they couldn’t do one damn job. You had one job. You literally had one job and you couldn’t protect us.”
Biles said therapy had helped her rediscover her love for gymnastics since returning to training in late 2017. But some issues remain. She says she still gets nervous visiting a doctor or trainer, and she still has trust issues with the leadership at USA Gymnastics, which has changed numerous times since the Nassar scandal broke.
“How can we trust them?” Biles said. “They bring in new people all the time and I automatically put my foot up because the people that I had known for years had failed us.”
She added: “All we can do at this point is have faith that they’ll have our backs, they’ll do the right thing,” she said. “But at the end of the day it’s just a ticking time bomb. We’ll see. It’s a waiting game.”