Just two weeks ago, UCLA Gymnastics assistant coach Jordyn Wieber was coaching the UCLA Gymnastics team at Pauley Pavilion in an unusual situation. Bruin head coach Valerie Kondos-Field, aka Miss Val, was missing. She missed that night’s meet because she was sick. Wieber, Chris Waller, Randy Lane and undergraduate assistant Hallie Mossett led the Bruins to victory to start the season.
Today, Wieber was in a courtroom in her hometown of Lansing, Michigan where she became the fourth member of the 2012 US Olympic Team, aka the “Fierce Five,” to say that former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar abused her. In a victim impact statement at Nassar’s sentencing hearing, Wieber offered an emotional statement describing how Nassar had abused her when she was a member of the U.S. Gymnastics National team. It was the first time she has spoken publicly of being abused by Nassar.
Here is a transcript of her full statement:
I, first of all, want to thank you for allowing us to speak here.
I thought that training for the Olympics would be the hardest thing that I would ever had to do, but, in fact, the hardest thing I would ever have to do is process that I am a victim of Larry Nassar.
It has caused me to feel shame and confusion and I’ve spent months trying to think back on my experience and wonder how I didn’t even know this was happening to me and how I became so brainwashed by Larry and everyone at USA Gymnastics, both whom I thought were supposed to be on my side.
I started seeing Larry Nassar at the age of 8, right here in my hometown of Lansing. He was known as the best gymnastics doctor in the world. Everyone in my club, on the U.S. National team, and across the country saw Larry and everyone said the same thing: He was a miracle worker and he could fix just about anything. I was treated by Larry for any and all of my injuries from ages 8 till I was 18, and it wasn’t long before he had gained my trust. He became a safe person of sorts and, to my teenage self, he appeared to be the good guy in an environment that was intense and restricting. He would try to advise me on how to deal with the stresses of training or my coaches. He would bring us food and coffee at the Olympics when we were too afraid to eat too much in front of our coaches. I didn’t know that these were all grooming techniques that he used to manipulate me and brainwash me into trusting him.
And when I was 14 years old, I tore my hamstring in my right leg. This was when he started performing the procedure that we are all now familiar with. I would cringe at how uncomfortable it felt. He did it time after time, appointment after appointment, convincing me that it was helping my hamstring injury. And the worst par was I had no idea that he was sexually abusing me for his own benefit.
I knew it felt strange, but he was the national team doctor. Who was I to question his treatments or, even more, risk my chance at making the Olympic team or being chosen to compete internationally? And, after all, he was recommended by the national team staff and he treated us monthly at all of our national team camps. I had even talked to my teammates, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, about this treatment and how uncomfortable this made us feel. And none of us really understood it.
After I made the Olympic team, I suffered a stress fracture in my right shin, it was extremely painful to tumble and land using my legs but I fought through the pain because it was the Olympics and I knew it would probably be my only shot. Our bodies were all hanging by a thread when we were in London. And who was the doctor that USAG sent to keep us healthy and help us get through? The doctor that was our abuser. The doctor that is a child molester. Because of my shin, I couldn’t train without being in extreme pain and It affected the number of routines I could do to prepare before the competition and, ultimately, it made me feel less prepared than I should have been. I didn’t qualify at all-around competition and I went through a dark time right before we won the team gold.
Now, I question everything about that injury and the medical treatment I received. Was Larry even doing anything to help my pain? Was I getting the proper medical care? Or, was he only focused on which one of us he was going to prey on next? What was he thinking about as he massaged my sore muscles every day? Now, I question everything.
To this day, I still don’t know how he could have been allowed to do this for so long. My teammates and I were subjected to his medical care every single month at the national team training center in Texas. He was the only male allowed to be present in the athlete dorm rooms to do whatever treatments he wanted. He was allowed to treat us in hotel rooms alone without any supervision. He took photos of us during training and whatever else he wanted. Nobody was protecting us from being taken advantage of. Nobody was even concerned whether or not we were being sexually abused. I was not protected and neither were my teammates.
My parents trusted USA Gymnastics and Larry Nassar to take care of me and we were betrayed by both. And, now, the lack of accountability from USAG, USOC and Michigan State have caused me and many other girls to remain shameful, confused and disappointed.
I am angry with myself for not recognizing the abuse, and that’s something I’m struggling with today. But, even though I am a victim. I do not and will not live my life as one. I am an Olympian. Despite being abused, I worked so hard and managed to achieve my goal. But, I want everyone, especially the media, to know that despite my athletic achievements, I am one of over 140 women and survivors whose story is important. Our pain is all the same and our stories are all important.
And, now, the people who are responsible need to accept responsibility for the pain they have caused me and the rest of the women who have been abused. Larry Nassar is accountable. USA Gymnastics is accountable. The U.S. Olympic Committee is accountable.
My teammates and friends have been through enough and now it’s time for change, because the current and future gymnasts do not deserve to live in anxiety, fear or be unprotected like I was.
Here is the video of Wieber’s testimony, courtesy of MLive on YouTube:
Jordyn, thank you for your courage to come forward. All of Bruins Nation stands with you.