Terin Humphrey, an Olympic gymnast, is questioning her recent firing by the USA Gymnastics Athlete Council.
Humphrey, who grew up in Bates City and trained at Great American Gymnastic Express (GAGE) in Blue Springs, wants to give her side of the story after being let go on May 20.
Humphrey, who won a silver medal on the uneven bars and a team silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, became an athlete representative on the USA Gymnastics Athlete Council in 2009.
She was removed from that position after posting a meme on Facebook that stated, "What champions consider coaching is what the entitled consider abuse.”
She had served as a confidant for many of the more than 368 gymnasts – many of whom were minors – who were part of the abuse of coaches, trainers and doctors, including USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who is serving time in prison for sexually abusing many gymnasts.
Humphrey had been a part of the world gymnastics stage for more than 20 years, serving as a member of the selection committee that chose the U.S. women's teams for them 2012 and 2016 Olympics, after she retired from the sport.
Humphrey, who now coaches at Xtreme Gymnastics and Trampoline in Lee’s Summit, wanted to give her side of the story with the following statement she posted on Twitter Tuesday:
"For nearly twenty years I have been a part of USA Gymnastics - from a little girl with big dreams, all the way to the day when those dreams came true, representing and winning medals for the United States in the 2004 Olympics.
"After my competitive career in college I was given the opportunity to come back to USA Gymnastics as an Athlete Representative. It has been a privilege and honor to represent the athletes. I volunteered for four years, gave up a career as a police officer, and worked tirelessly to better myself for the role of Athlete Rep.
"I chose my true love and followed my heart. I chose gymnastics because I wanted to make a difference for the sport and the talented athletes that compete with passion. This decision was made knowing the sacrifices that it would take for me and my family, including overall emotional and financial security.
"The horrific events surrounding Larry Nassar leave me wondering if any of my sacrifices or work has made a difference. Throughout the ordeal with Larry Nassar I was instructed by USAG not to speak out or express an opinion. For example: “Terin, stay quiet,” “Terin, no speaking out or posting,” and “Terin, you can’t have an opinion.”
"I followed those instructions and only spoke about my own life and my own experiences. I wanted to be able to keep my life and legacy in the sport alive. I have been attacked for it online including death threats and accusations of not supporting the athletes.
"USA Gymnastics has not provided any support. In fact, they perpetuated a dysfunctional and dangerous culture by allowing the release of confidential emails and creating an intentional disconnect between me and the athletes I was charged with supporting.
"Staff members who reached out directly were summarily fired, during my life in the sport and as an Athlete Rep.
"I have taken injured kids and athletes to hospitals while holding together their broken bodies. I have cried with them. I have cried with their parents. I have given my all for the love of the sport. Now, USA Gymnastics is actively working to harm me, my reputation, my name and my career. Their recent decisions have made it increasingly impossible to find and maintain employment.
"On May 3rd, 2019, USA Gymnastics new CEO informed me that I was not going to be asked to leave USA Gymnastics. On May 5th, I was asked to resign by USA Gymnastics leadership even though my position was an elected position by the Athletes Council, not USA Gymnastics. This happened, ostensibly, because of a Facebook post on my personal page.
"Finally on May 20th, the Athletes Council decided to remove me from the position because of the pressure being placed upon them by USA Gymnastics.
"USA Gymnastics is primarily run by attorneys who have no interest whatsoever in truly protecting or growing the sport. It is clear the organization is focused on survival in the wake of Larry Nassar.
"USAG is an organization run by fear and always has been - kowtowing to special interests and insider benefits at the overall expense of the athletes, the professional members and the overall health and safety of the sport.
"These practices are ultimately what allowed Larry Nassar to exist and completely corrupt nature of the decision making at USA Gymnastics.
"I refused to resign because I have done nothing to warrant such a decision. The post in question was about my own life, my own experiences and frankly, how stubborn and bullheaded I was as an athlete.
"If we have now deluded ourselves in gymnastics, or society in general, to the point that me saying that I occasionally needed a good butt-chewing by my coach would lead to organizational or public out cry, then we have ALL been turned to cowards.
"I will not bow to the pressure of internet bullies or attorneys who have an agenda. I will continue to speak the truth. I support the athletes. I support the survivors. I wholeheartedly believe we should completely eradicate abuse of any type from our sport. I will not apologize for believing the occasional pointed correction is tantamount to abuse. It isn’t. It never has been.
"On May 21st, USA Gymnastics made the decision to announce my departure on social media (after I asked them not too) and all the various internet denizens. The manner in which this was done has caused significant unfounded harm to me personally and professionally after I fought tirelessly for USA Gymnastics.
"I wanted USAG to survive. I located and proposed a new headquarters and training site in Kansas City for USAG, which as of this release they are still pursuing (among other contributions).
"However, previous and current leadership within the organization continue to make decisions and take actions that hurt everyone. My reputation has been irreparably tarnished, but more importantly USAG’s accusations are hurting my family, my gym and my athletes.
"Enough is enough. The professional members and athletes that make up the sport of gymnastics are not simply disposable commodities to simply use up and discard. USAG silenced me during the Larry Nassar ordeal. It is time for that to stop.
"Those who would argue that I am simply disgruntled are doing so to protect their own interests. It is time for the truth to be spoken and for the entire gymnastics community to have a voice.
"I look forward to discussing 'lost' SafeSport files. I look forward to discussing how USA Gymnastics deals with medical emergencies. I look forward to discussing all the policy failures at USA Gymnastics. I have been in gymnastics my whole life and the last 10 years or so inside USA Gymnastics. I have a compelling list and I have no reason to remain silent.
"For those with questions, I never liked Larry Nassar and chose not to use him as my doctor. In my role as Athlete Rep I was diligent in watching for red flags with Larry Nassar and every other professional personnel the athletes encountered. I didn’t see any behavior that was actionable. I assure the public that if I had I would have been the first to report it.
"I have one final thing to say to USA Gymnastics: I have always supported the welfare of athletes. It was you that did not. I have always fought for what I believe was right and what I believed in.
"It was you that were so smitten by Five-Ring Fever and greed that you allowed these travesties to unfold. I am an open book and will gladly openly discuss both my successes and failures in any forum. It is you that continue to hide and deflect in hopes that you will somehow survive and be allowed to continue this pattern of desecrating my sport. It is you that has lost the support of nearly all, and it is you that continues to exist ONLY due to legal machinations and your continued fostering of a culture of fear.
"To the athletes and coaches who have stood behind me, and even those who may disagree with me, I support each and every one of you. It is past time for us to come together and take back the control of this amazing sport and put it into the hands of the people who will truly protect the sport, its athletes and all its stakeholders. – Respectfully, Terin Humphrey"