They were known as the Fierce Five, for their athletic prowess in capturing the team gold at the 2012 Olympic Games. But that name may be just as appropriate for what the gymnasts endured to earn that title.
Kyla Ross revealed on CBS This Morning that she was abused by national team doctor Larry Nassar. Ross’ revelation means that every members of the 2012 U.S. women’s gymnastics team was sexually abused by the Michigan-based osteopathic doctor, who traveled with the women’s national team to competitions and to monthly training camps at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas.
Ross, a junior at University of California Los Angeles, said she was first abused by Nassar when she was 13. She appeared on the show with her Bruins teammate Madison Kocian, who was part of the 2016 Olympic team that also earned gold in Rio. Kocian said she, too, was abused by Nassar.
Both said they have not been contacted by USA Gymnastics, the national governing body for their sport that allowed Nassar to treat the girls. “It’s saddening to know a lot of gymnasts have gone through this and [USAG] has not reached out to see how we are doing as people, not as just as athletes but as individuals who grew up in the sport,” Ross said.
Ross’ 2012 Olympic teammates, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber previously revealed they had been abused by Nassar when he gave them so-called medical treatments for various injuries. Raisman and Wieber appeared at Nassar’s sentencing hearing in Michigan in January to describe their experiences and urge the judge to consider the maximum sentence. Nassar is currently serving an up to 175 prison term for abusing not just the Olympic gymnasts, but hundreds of others whom he saw either at USA Gymnastics-sanctioned competitions, at his offices at Michigan State University or through his affiliation with Twistars Gymnastics in Michigan.
Kocian joins three of her 2016 Olympic teammates — Simone Biles, Douglas and Raisman in reporting that Nassar abused her while she was a member of the national team.
“He was almost like a family member,” says Kocian. “On international trips he would bring us food or be kind, and be the person who was always asking how you are doing. The culture at the Karolyi ranch was a culture of fear and a culture of silence, and that’s what led him to be able to abuse us.”
As with nearly all of the more than 200 athletes who have come forward about Nassar’s sexual abuse, Ross and Kocian said they believed the abuse was treatment for their injuries and were too intimidated to question it. “We were told it was a medical procedure. A lot of us had back injuries or hamstring injuries, and [were told] that this was the only option because he was our team doctor. If we were to speak up, you probably wouldn’t have been in that consideration of making that [Olympic] team,” Kocian said.
Both Ross and Kocian now compete for UCLA, and helped their team win the national championship this year. They are the first female gymnastics Olympians to compete in the NCAA, since neither had turned professional before their Games. Wieber is an assistant coach for the team.
In a statement provided to CBS This Morning, USA Gymnastics said its “support is unwavering for Kyla, Madison and all the athletes who courageously came forward to share their experiences.”