Simone Biles burst into tears when she told Congress that FBI and gymnastics officials turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar and others women.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she said “enough is enough” as she and three other American gymnasts spoke about the enduring toll of Nassar’s crimes.
Politicians are examining the flaws in the FBI’s investigation into Nassar, including the delays that allowed him to abuse more athletes.
An internal Justice Department investigation report in July said the office made fundamental errors in the investigation and did not treat the case “with the utmost seriousness” after USA Gymnastics reported for the allegations were first made to the FBI field office in Indianapolis in 2015.
Biles, considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, said after reading the report she felt the FBI “turned a blind eye to us.”
Biles, who won 25 world championship medals and seven Olympic medals, said she believed the abuse happened because organizations created by Congress to protect her as an athlete – USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee – “did not do their job”.
Hundreds of girls and women have said Nassar sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment while working for Michigan-based and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.
Biles, who declared herself a survivor of sexual abuse, said: “I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that allowed and perpetrated his abuse.”
She said USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee “knew I had been mistreated by their team’s official doctor long before I knew about their knowledge.”
Appearing alongside other athletes including Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols, Ms Biles was visibly moved.
She said: “We have failed and we deserve answers.”
The hearing will examine why the FBI did not conduct an earlier investigation into Nassar, 58, accused of mistreating up to 150 women.
A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz in July revealed that the office made a series of failures in dealing with the allegations against him when they learned of the abuse.
During the hearing, Ms Biles also spoke about how abuse affected her during the Tokyo Olympics this summer, which saw her withdraw from five finals due to mental health concerns.
She added that she had traveled to Japan without her family due to COVID-19 restrictions.
She said: “As the only competitor at the recent Tokyo Games who survived this horror, I can assure you that the impacts of this man’s abuse are never over or forgotten.
“It meant I was going to the gym, to training, to therapy, living daily amid the reminders of this story for another 365 days.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray, who did not head the agency during the initial investigation, told the Senate panel that the actions of the agents who botched the investigation are inexcusable, and he announced that one of the agents “no longer work for the office in any capacity.”.
Nassar was sentenced in federal court in 2017 to 60 years in prison for possession of child pornography.
A year later, he was also sentenced to 175 and 125 in two separate Michigan courts for assaulting female gymnasts in his care.