An Open Letter to Steve Penny
The fact that you allowed Marta Karolyi to streamroll–once again–over everyone with presumably better judgement is just disgraceful. You know full well that if Marta wanted to allow Chellsie Memmel through to Nationals she–and you–would have just made that “you must score a 14 rule” go away. Chellsie is being punished because she spoke out about the Karolyi training system, which has caused injury after injury without USAG caring. A different, braver leader might look at the injury record and camp and perhaps rethink their strategy, and if Marta were working in a country with less depth she would have to. But because the US has so much talent, she can afford to break gymnast after gymnast, and she can punish gymnasts she doesn’t like (see also: Li, Anna; Beiger, Jana). USAG does not care about Chellsie’s health; if you did care more about athlete health, you would have stopped Rebecca Bross from doing a vault she clearly was not ready for, multiple gymnasts would not have broken at camps, and abusive coaches would not be allowed to continue.
It is time for you to take a side. It hurts no one to allow Chellsie to compete at Nationals. She has given up more than almost anyone for this sport. She has lost her adolescence, destroyed her health, and pushed through incredible pain for the sake of her country–and your organization. No one deserves to be forced to end their career on this note, but Chellsie deserves it far less. Shame on you.