Sports

Biles blasts FBI, US officials for failing to act against sexual abuse

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles held back tears on Wednesday, as she told lawmakers how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and US gymnastics and Olympic officials failed to stop the sexual abuse that she and hundreds of other athletes suffered from former doctor Larry Nassar.

"To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse," she said before the US Senate Judiciary Committee alongside fellow gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols.

Biles, 24, added that USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee failed to act while the FBI "turned a blind eye".

The emotional hearing painted a damning picture of FBI, which botched the Nassar investigation so badly that he was able to continue abusing more victims for over a year before he was finally arrested.

FBI director Chris Wray made no excuses and said the bureau had fired one of the agents who had falsified the details of Maroney's 2015 interview about the abuse.

An angry Maroney, 25, recalled spending three hours on the phone six years ago, telling the FBI details of her story that her own mother had not even heard about.

It included accounts of sexual abuse she endured with Nassar during the 2012 Olympics. She described him as "more of a paedophile than he was a doctor".

Nassar has been found guilty in three separate cases, with one of the prison sentences running up to 175 years.

The FBI had also failed to document Maroney's report for a year and a half, and misrepresented what she told them about her experiences.

Several of the gymnasts were also angry with the FBI for failing to contact them immediately after they had reported the abuse. Even when the FBI finally got to them, they said the agents tried to downplay the severity of the abuse.

"I remember sitting with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn't that bad," Raisman, 27, said.

"It's taken me years of therapy to realise that my abuse was bad, that it does matter."

FBI declined to name the fired agent, but Senator Richard Blumenthal identified him as Michael Langeman, who served as a supervisory special agent in Indianapolis.

"We have been failed and we deserve answers," Biles said.

Raisman expressed frustrations that more has not been done to investigate USA Gymnastics or the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee for covering up Nassar's abuse.

"Both organisations knew of Nassar's abuse, long before it became public," she said. - REUTERS

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