USA Gymnastics ends agreement to train at Karolyi Ranch

January 18, 2018

The long relationship between USA Gymnastics and the Karolyi Ranch is over.

The Indianapolis-based organization announced Thursday it has terminated its agreement to have the ranch outside of Huntsville, Texas, serve as the National Training Center for the women's elite program. The decision came three days after Olympic champion Simone Biles expressed dismay at having to attend camps there, where Biles says she was sexually abused by a former national team doctor.

Kerry Perry, USA Gymnastics president and CEO, said it was her intent to have the women's program leave the ranch when she began her tenure in December.

"Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this," Perry said in a written statement. "We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes."

The ranch is the home of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband, Bela. USA Gymnastics initially agreed to buy the training facility in August 2016 but then backed out of the agreement following an investigation into sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar, who worked with the organization for nearly three decades before stepping away in 2015.

Several Olympians—including Biles, 2012 Olympic champion Gabby Douglas, six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman and two-time medalist McKayla Maroney—say they were abused by Nassar, with some of the alleged abuse occurring at the facility.

Biles, who has returned to training after winning five medals at the 2016 Olympics, said in a statement released Monday that "it is impossibly difficult" to attend team camps at the ranch.

"It breaks my heart even more to think that as I work toward my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused," Biles wrote.

Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography crimes and is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to molesting girls at Michigan State University and his home. Maroney said in a victim's statement at Nassar's sentencing hearing on Thursday that he "left scars on my psyche that may never go away."

Perry said the organization is exploring alternate sites until a permanent location is determined. USA Gymnastics canceled a team camp scheduled for later this month.

The ranch was designated as the U.S. Women's National Gymnastics Training Center in 2001 and became a U.S. Olympic Training Site in 2011.

The Karolyis opened the ranch in the early 1980s not long after defecting from Romania.


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