Who wants to blame the USOC? Exactly -- why?

Who wants to blame the USOC? Exactly -- why?

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, opened a news conference here Sunday by reading a prepared statement that declared the IOC’s policy-making executive board was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the “abuse scandal” rocking USA Gymnastics and Michigan State.

The board also, Bach said, expressed its “moral support for the victims and applauded the courage of the victims who gave testimony.”

The IOC, Bach further said, “took note of the ongoing independent investigation,” the U.S. Olympic Committee announcing Friday it had selected New York law firm Ropes & Gray LLP to conduct the inquiry, and “hopes that this will also give clarity to the responsibilities of the different parties.”

USA Gymnastics clearly has a lot to answer for.Michigan State as well.

The FBI, too, as the New York Times made plain in a blockbuster account published over the weekend, the agency taking a year to pursue the case — the paper identifying at least 40 girls and young women who say Larry Nassar molested them between July 2015, when the matter was first reported to the FBI, and September 2016, when the Indianapolis Star published its first accounts.

For all that, an issue for many, including on Capitol Hill: what about the USOC? 

Everyone, it seems, is looking for someone to blame. It’s entirely unclear, however, that — without more — it should be the USOC.




Triumphant win for survivors? Or — opportunity lost?

Triumphant win for survivors? Or — opportunity lost?

Everyone knows the saying about talk being cheap but action, real action, is when you put your money where your mouth is.

The United States Congress, presented this week with an extraordinary opportunity to take meaningful action amid the Larry Nassar crisis enveloping USA Gymnastics and Michigan State, made it seem like it did, indeed, take that action

Indeed, after passage of a measure Tuesday, lawmakers and advocates said Congress had done exactly that. 

Is that so? Really?

Or can — indeed, should — the painful argument be made that, yet once more, the grown-ups, given the duty of looking after the children and young adults in their care, failed?

Every child's worst nightmare: the monster in the room

Every child's worst nightmare: the monster in the room

It breaks your heart to listen to the testimony in a Michigan courtroom where Larry Nassar’s victims have, finally, confronted him.

It makes you so angry.

How could this have happened? And for so long?

This is indisputably one of the worst moments in the recent history of the U.S. Olympic movement. It calls for serious and significant investigation and systemic reform.

To be clear about what happened, and in the most elemental terms: adults failed children. 

There was a monster in the room, every child’s worst nightmare. Who made the monster go away? No one. 

How can that possibly be?

Nadia Comaneci takes Havana


HAVANA -- Incredibly, this summer it will have been 40 years since Nadia Comaneci turned her perfect-10s at the Montreal Summer Games. As difficult as those 10s were, the trick she has perfected since is perhaps all the more difficult.

Over the years, Nadia has emerged as one of the very few Olympic stars who is not only known by her first name but known virtually everywhere. She and her husband, the American gymnast Bart Conner, himself a gold medalist in Los Angeles in 1984, are hailed far and wide as first-rate ambassadors for the Olympic ideals.

This perhaps explains why, a few weeks back, the Rome 2024 bid committee tweeted out a photo of Nadia during her competition years:

Only to have Conner file this rejoinder:

With U.S.-Cuba relations moving toward a new normal, Comaneci took part this past weekend in a variety of events in Havana, including an appearance at the Cuban national gymnastics academy, where -- among others -- the 2015 men's world championship silver medalist, Manrique Larduet, trains.

So, too, little girls who dream of being Nadia.

He, and they, were thrilled -- in the kind of occasion the Olympic world needs way more of -- the star herself, the embodiment of dreaming big dreams.

It all reminded her, Nadia would say afterward, of Romania a long time ago. And what was -- still, is -- possible.

A squadron of 9- to 11-year-old girls waits expectantly for Nadia

The big finale of their skills show for Nadia (far right)

Big smiles all around

Does it get any better?

Maybe only if you are up high taking a picture of Nadia with a phone that has a special case that looks like a watermelon

Or you get the double score of having Nadia autograph your leotard

The beam made for one of Nadia's seven perfect-10s in 1976

A quick peek in on the rhythmic gymnasts

A few feet, and moments, away at the men's gym

Pommel horse practice

Building strength for the still rings

At the squat rack, in a small room where the winter sun provides the only light

The worn, sagging floor that supports the Olympic dream

The water fountain

Undeterred by obstacle or odds

With Larduet, left

'Gracias y hasta la próxima vez': until we meet again ...