Two more Olympic gymnasts came forward on Thursday to accuse former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.
Kyla Ross, a member of the 2012 Olympic “Fierce Five” team, and Madison Kocian, a member of the 2016 Olympic team, spoke to “CBS This Morning” about the abuse they endured at the hands of Nassar, who is now serving three concurrent prison sentences of up to 175 years. It was the first time they had spoken publicly about what they endured.
“Being on national team for all those years, we were really silenced. We didn’t really have a voice and say as athletes,” Ross said.
Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor, has been accused of sexual abuse under the guise of medical treatment by hundreds of athletes.
Kocian, who competed alongside fellow Nassar survivors Aly Raisman and Simone Biles at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, said Nassar was “almost like a family member” to many of the athletes.
“He would, on international trips, he would bring us food or he would just kind of be the person that would always ask, ‘How are you doing?’” Kocian said. “Because the culture that was at the Karolyi Ranch was a culture of fear, a culture of silence. And that’s what led him to be able to abuse us.”
The Karolyi Ranch, an elite gymnastics training center in Texas that has sent dozens of athletes to the Olympics, has come under fire for verbal and emotionally abusive tactics. Earlier this year, USA Gymnastics cut ties with the ranch, run by Martha and Bela Karolyi, amid allegations that Nassar sexually abused athletes there.
“Anytime you put winning and medals above people, you’re going to open up your organization to a corrosiveness that will spread like a disease.”
Both Ross and Kocian said they are disappointed in the way USA Gymnastics has handled the allegations against Nassar.
“It’s been saddening to know that a lot of gymnastics have gone through this event and [USA Gymnastics has] not reached out to see how we’re doing as people, not just as athletes, but as individuals who grew up in this sport,” Ross said.
Kocian added that USA Gymnastics has not contacted her, either, telling “CBS This Morning”: “Still to this day I haven’t heard anything. Even after Larry Nassar resigned and was asked to leave, I hadn’t heard anything from them.”
Valorie Kondos Field, who now coaches Kocian and Ross at UCLA, joined the athletes on “CBS This Morning” for support.
“Anytime you put winning and medals above people, you’re going to open up your organization to a corrosiveness that will spread like a disease,” Kondos Field said.
USA Gymnastics responded in a statement to the news show.
“USA Gymnastics’ support is unwavering for Kyla, Madison and all athletes who courageously came forward to share their experiences,” the organization said. “Their powerful voices and stories will continue to be a basis for our future decisions.”
USA Gymnastics didn’t immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for further comment.