CINCINNATI - A local gymnastics coach’s 2016 interview with WCPO has set off a new controversy in US Gymnastics related to the Larry Nassar scandal.
Olympic champion and outspoken Nassar survivor Aly Raisman pulled Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy owner and coach Mary Lee Tracy into the scandal Tuesday.
Raisman went on Twitter to protest US Gymnastics' appointment of Tracy to Elite Development Coordinator because Raisman said Tracy “supported” Nassar, the former US Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting at least 250 girls dating back to 1992.
USA Gymnastics has appointed someone who, in my view, supported Nassar, victim-shamed survivors, & has shown no willingness to learn from the past. This is a slap in the face for survivors, & further confirmation that nothing at @USAG has changed. What a profound disappointment! https://t.co/lklLiqsOCJ
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) August 29, 2018
Others have since joined the chorus criticizing Tracy. Alyssa Beckerman, who trained at Tracy's Fairfield Ohio, gym and made the national team, said she "wouldn’t allow her anywhere near young women’s development or self esteem with a 20-foot pole."
Choosing Mary Lee Tracy is a giant step backwards for USAG. I wouldn’t allow her anywhere near young women’s development or self esteem with a 20 foot pole. https://t.co/ndvJPi2fSm
— Alyssa Beckerman (@AlyssaBeckerman) August 29, 2018
Tracy told WCPO's Tom McKee in that December 2016 interview that Nassar, since sentenced to decades in prison on sex charges, had treated some gymnasts who trained at her Fairfield, Ohio, gym. But Tracy said Nassar had never worked there.
At the time of the interview, Tracy's gymnasts couldn’t believe the accusations against Nassar, Tracy said.
“My Olympians have all worked with Larry. We were all defending him because he has helped so many kids in their careers. He has protected them, taken care of them, worked with me and worked with their parents. He’s been amazing,” Tracy told McKee at the time.
WATCH McKee’s 2016 TV report in the video player above.
Raisman called Tracy’s new appointment a “slap in the face” to survivors.
"USA Gymnastics has appointed someone who, in my view, supported Nassar, victim-shamed survivors, has shown no willingness to learn from the past. This is a slap in the face for survivors, further confirmation that nothing at @USAGym has changed. What a profound disappointment!" Raisman tweeted Tuesday.
More have joined the Twitter-slaught. Former gymnast and Nassar survivor Chelsea Kroll Williams tweeted that Tracy is “one of the most controlling, domineering coaches” she’s ever met.
Mary Lee Tracy is one of the most controlling, domineering coaches I have ever met. At USAG sanctioned events and camps, at least one of her athletes was abused by Larry Nassar. She supported him even when it was very clear that she shouldn’t. This is maddening. https://t.co/AxckLD7VEl
— Chelsea Kroll Williams (@chels327) August 29, 2018
John Manly, an attorney for more than 100 Nassar victims, called for Tracy’s decertification
Mary Lee Tracy, USAG’s new elite program director was a Nassar defender. Read her glowing comments about him in this article. We represent one of her former athletes brutally molested by Nassar. This is who USAG picks?? Decertification now! https://t.co/UFYkQrczEF
— john manly (@johnmanly) August 28, 2018
Tracy coached Amanda Borden of Cincinnati and Jaycie Phelps of Greenfield, Indiana, to the gold-medal winning 1996 Olympic Team, known as the “Magnificent Seven.” Tracy was one of the coaches of that Olympic team.
Another gymnastics coach convicted of sex crimes, Ray Adams, did work at Cincinnati Gymnastics in the early 2000s, Tracy told McKee.
Adams, who was found guilty of multiple sex crimes against children, coached gymnastics for 20 years in four different states, the Indianapolis Star reported. Adams was accused of molesting gymnasts and taking inappropriate photos of children at most of the 12 gyms where he worked.
Tracy said she didn't do a background check on Adams or other applicants at the time, but she does now.
"In 2000, people didn't do (background checks) as often," Tracy told WCPO. "Now, USA Gymnastics requires a background check even to become a member. And now we do background check on everyone. Back then I never really felt a need to. I wish I would have."
Tracy said she called a reference for Adams who had no connection to gymnastics who gave a positive review.
According to the Indy Star report, Tracy had no knowledge of Adams' criminal history prior to recent reporting.
"There were no red flags. I thought he was a little generous, but you certainly hate to condemn someone for being generous," Tracy said.
Adams worked at Sharper Image while working part time at the gym, Tracy said. He would often bring in gifts for the girls, including a massage chair for the gym.
"It makes me sick to my stomach," Tracy said. "People that I trusted, people that are like brothers to you, and things like this happen...it's just very saddening."
The US Gymnastics announcement of Tracy's appointment said Tracy is "well-known throughout the gymnastics community for her passion for inspiring and developing self-esteem, confidence and courage in young women.
"As the elite development coordinator, Tracy will oversee the developmental pipeline for women’s gymnastics, which includes Hopes, the Developmental Program and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs)."
Read the Indianapolis Star's full report on 368 gymnasts' accusations against coaches