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USA Gymnastics abandons Karolyi Ranch amid sex-abuse scandal

USA Gymnastics says athletes won't have to train at the Karolyi Ranch, where some gymnasts say they were molested by doctor Larry Nassar.
Simone Biles
U.S. gymnast Simone Biles trains at the Karolyi Ranch in New Waverly, Texas on Sept. 12, 2015.David J. Phillip / AP file

Scandal-rocked USA Gymnastics announced Thursday it will no longer train gymnasts at the famed Karolyi Ranch in Texas, where powerhouse Olympic teams were built and where some athletes say they were molested by the team doctor, Larry Nassar.

The move comes a few days after Simone Biles, the star of the 2016 games, revealed that she was abused by Nassar and said she could not bear the thought of training again at the facility near Huntsville.

"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 on her social media accounts.

McKayla Maroney, who won gold in 2012, has also said she was molested at the ranch by Nassar, starting when she was 13 years old, with no one to turn to because the training camp did not allow parents.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry said the organization, which picks the Olympic and national teams, has "terminated its agreement" with the ranch.

"It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center," she wrote.

"It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December. Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

"We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts," the statement said.

The facility was created more than 30 years ago by legendary gymnastics coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi after they defected from Romania. It became the training site for the U.S. national team in 2001 and for the Olympic team in 2011.

USA Gymnastics announced last year that it had abandoned plans to buy the property.

Dominique Moceanu, a member of the 1996 Olympic team who has accused the Karolyis of verbal and emotional abuse, applauded USA Gymnastics' move to sever ties with the ranch.

The Karolyis were accused in one gymnast lawsuit of turning a blind eye to abuse by Nassar. Their lawyer could not be reached for comment on Thursday but the couple has previously denied wrongdoing.

Nassar, 54, who was quietly fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015 after an athlete complaint, has been accused by more than 140 women of abuse, including Olympians Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas.

He has been sentenced to 60 years in prison on federal charges for possession of child pornography and is awaiting sentencing in state court after pleading guilty to molesting 10 girls. Dozens of accusers have been testifying against him this week at an emotional hearing in Michigan, where he had his medical practice.