Rocked by the sexual assault scandal involving former team physician Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics has lost a pair of major corporate sponsors, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Kellogg’s. In three separate court proceedings this year, the 54-year-old Nassar pleaded guilty to sexually abusing young girls and to federal counts related to child pornography.
As first reported Thursday by the Orange County Register, Kellogg’s and P&G have not renewed sponsorships that expired in 2016 and 2017, respectively. “We will evaluate whether to renew our partnership next spring, in light of our longer term priorities and continued actions on their part,” a P&G representative told The Post of the gymnastics governing body, which selects the U.S. teams for the Olympics and world championships.
Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, three members of the “Fierce Five,” the U.S. women’s gymnastics squad that won the team gold medal at the 2012 London Games, are among more than 140 women who have accused Nassar of abusing them. Douglas and Raisman were also on the 2016 team that repeated as gold-medal winners.
Nassar worked with USA Gymnastics from 1986 to 2015 and was fired last year by Michigan State University, where he was an associate professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. The father of three reportedly plans to appeal his 60-year prison sentence for child pornography, while he faces sentencing in January for pleading guilty in Michigan courtrooms to 10 combined counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, including one involving a girl under the age of 13.
“You go back and you wonder how I got down this path to begin with,” Nassar said during his sentencing last week (via the Lansing State Journal). “I really did try to be a good person. I really did try to help people … I hope one day I can be forgiven, and I’m going to take every day of your sentence to try to better myself.”
Many of Nassar’s accusers, including Maroney and Raisman, have said that he committed his abuses when they were sent to him for routine examinations and medical treatment. A 32-year-old former gymnast, Rachael Denhollander, inspired dozens of victims to come forward last year after she filed a criminal complaint against Nassar with MSU police, claiming that he sexually assaulted her when she was 15.
Officials from USA Gymnastics, including the husband-and-wife coaching team of Bela and Marta Karolyi, and from Michigan State have come under fire for not doing enough to investigate complaints about Nassar — which reportedly go back at least as far as 1997 — and other coaches. USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny resigned in March, while Denhollander is among numerous women who have filed lawsuits related to Nassar’s conduct.
“We support the actions USA Gymnastics has taken thus far, including accepting the recommendations by an independent expert and hiring a new Safe Sport Director,” P&G said in a statement to The Post. “In addition, we are supportive of the broader actions taking place via the USOC Safe Sport program as well as the Federal reform proposed by Senator Feinstein and others.
“But we want to ensure all voices who have been affected by abuse have been heard and that USAG takes all measures necessary to address such vitally important issues.”
A Kellogg’s representative echoed that language in a statement to The Post, saying, “We are hopeful the steps the USAG is taking to put policies and procedures in place will ensure a safe and positive environment for all athletes.”
“The contract for Kellogg’s most recent sponsorship of USAG ended at the close of 2016,” the representative said. “At this point, we have not renewed but will assess the USAG for 2020 Summer Games. Our focus right now is on activating our Winter Olympics sponsorship.”
Kellogg’s was the title sponsor for multicity tours featuring Olympic gymnasts, including after the 2012 and 2016 Games. P&G had been the name sponsor of the USA Gymnastics national championships since 2013, following the organization’s nine-year partnership with Visa.
“USA Gymnastics entered into sponsorship agreements with P&G and Kellogg’s that have been fulfilled,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement to The Post. “We are now discussing renewal opportunities with partners like P&G and Kellogg’s that will reflect our commitment to creating a culture of empowerment focused on athlete safety and other important initiatives.
“We value our longstanding partnerships with P&G, Kellogg’s and all of our corporate partners, and we look forward to working together to make a positive difference in our athletes’ lives.”
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