The CEO of USA Gymnastics resigned this week over the sport federation’s handling of sexual abuse scandals, mirroring similar criticisms of USA Swimming leadership.
Gymnastics head Steve Penny resigned Thursday after about 12 years leading the national governing body of the sport. USA Today reports that Penny “had been facing increased criticism since August for not doing enough to protect gymnasts from sexual abuse or responding to allegations against coaches appropriately or quickly enough.” The USA Today report goes on to reference more than 360 cases of sexual abuse allegations leveled at gymnastics coaches over two decades.
The U.S. Olympic Committee released this short statement on Penny’s resignation:
“Today’s announcement will hopefully allow USA Gymnastics to shift its attention to the future with a secure environment for its athletes and continued success in competition.”
USA Swimming has dealt with similar allegations that the federation mishandled coaching abuse allegations and convictions. Executive Director Chuck Wielgus in particular came under fire, with calls for his resignation coming just as they did for Penny. In addition, Wielgus’s nomination for the International Swimming Hall of Fame and his honorary doctorate from the U.S. Sports Academy were both protested by various groups.
Unlike Penny, Wielgus did not resign at the time in response to the calls. He will retire later this year. Attorney Bob Allard, one of Wielgus’s chief critics, released a statement about Wielgus in the aftermath of Penny’s suspension:
“Under Chuck Wielgus’ leadership, USA Swimming has been caught in demonstrable cover ups, committed perjury as to what it knew about pedophile coaches and the subject of an extensive Congressional investigation which blasted its child protection practices,” Allard wrote. “Not only has this man not even been asked by his friends at the USOC not to resign, but he has never been reprimanded in any way, shape or manner. To the contrary, he has been basically glorified, especially by his old friend Scott Blackmun, culminating in an attempt to bestow upon him the highest possible honor of being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. The whole ordeal reeks of detestable political maneuvering and has nothing to do what right and wrong. In the end, only children suffer and that is the greatest shame of all of this.”