Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles blamed USA Gymnastics for failing to do its "one damn job" of protecting her and other athletes as she spoke in an emotional interview about the lasting trauma from the sexual abuse by the team's doctor.
“It's hard coming here for an organization and having had them fail us so many times,” Biles, 22, said Wednesday.
“They couldn’t do one damn job. You had one job. You literally had one job and you couldn’t protect us," the star gymnast said in Kansas City, Missouri, where she was competing for her sixth U.S. all-around title, NBC affiliate KSHB reported.
In January 2018, Biles announced she was one of the hundreds of athletes whom Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor, sexually abused over the span of two decades. In a statement on Twitter at the time, the Olympic champion wrote, "I, too, am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar."
Nassar pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault in 2018 and is currently serving a decadeslong prison sentence.
Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Olympics, said the memory of the abuse still makes it hard for her to train, forcing her to leave the gym on a lot of days.
“It just breaks my heart to read it or to see it," she said, referring to news of the scandal. "So I just try to focus on my job, do what I’m supposed to, come out, compete, do what I love, and at the end of the day we just see."
Biles said she is trying her best to heal, including going to therapy and continuing to compete, but doctors' appointments are still difficult. “Every time I go to the doctor or training, I get worked on, and I don’t want to get worked on, but my body hurts. I'm 22.”
In a statement to NBC News, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Li Li Leung acknowledged that the organization has more work to do to earn back the trust of its athletes.
"Simone Biles is undoubtedly the best gymnast in the world and possibly of all time. She is an outstanding representative for gymnastics and the United States," Leung said. "We will continue to work hard to demonstrate to Simone and all of our athletes, members, community and fans that we are working to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athlete voices are heard."