U.S. gymnast and Olympic champion Simone Biles spoke out in 2021 about her mental health, and in particular the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
During the Tokyo Olympics, she withdrew from the women’s team final, citing her mental health struggles. Then, in mid-September, the four-time Olympic gold medalist testified before a Senate committee about how the FBI, USA Gymnastics, and Olympic officials failed to protect her and others from Nassar’s abuse.
In a Sept. 27, 2021, interview with New York Magazine, Biles spoke up about the toll the past seven years had taken on her:
“If you looked at everything I’ve gone through for the past seven years, I should have never made another Olympic team,” Biles says, her eyes filling with tears. “I should have quit way before Tokyo, when Larry Nassar was in the media for two years. It was too much. But I was not going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was 6 years old. I wasn’t going to let him take that joy away from me. So I pushed past that for as long as my mind and my body would let me.”
Nassar, a convicted sex offender, is currently serving up to 175 years in prison. He had sexually assaulted more than a 100 victims, and possessed thousands of images of child pornography, according to a Justice Department report.
In the interview, Biles would go on to describe how she is back in therapy, and spending more time focusing on herself. “This will probably be something I work through for 20 years. No matter how much I try to forget. It’s a work in progress,” she said.
Bantock, Jack. “Simone Biles Says She ‘Should Have Quit Way before Tokyo.’” CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/28/sport/simone-biles-quit-tokyo-spt-intl/index.html. Accessed 28 Sept. 2021.Felix, Camonghne. “Simone Biles Chose Herself.” The Cut, 27 Sept. 2021, https://www.thecut.com/article/simone-biles-olympics-2021.html.Planas, Antonio. “Larry Nassar Has Spent Thousands in Prison but Still Owes Victims Nearly $58,000.” NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/larry-nassar-has-spent-thousands-prison-still-owes-victims-nearly-n1275346. Accessed 28 Sept. 2021.
“Simone Biles Condemns U.S. Olympic Committee, FBI for Sex-Abuse Crisis.” Reuters, 16 Sept. 2021, https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/gymnasts-simone-biles-aly-raisman-testify-us-senate-sex-abuse-probe-2021-09-15/.
“Watchdog Blasts FBI for Errors in Larry Nassar Sex Abuse Investigation.” NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/watchdog-report-blasts-fbi-fundamental-errors-gymnastics-sex-abuse-investigation-n1273987. Accessed 28 Sept. 2021.