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Mary Bono Resigns As USA Gymnastics' Interim CEO


USA Gymnastics is again looking for a president. Yesterday, former Congresswoman Mary Bono resigned as interim head of the federation. She was in that job for less than a week, and the person she replaced resigned under pressure after less than a year on the job. This turmoil is happening as USA Gymnastics tries to recover from a sexual abuse scandal involving former doctor Larry Nassar. NPR's Tom Goldman has the story.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: USA Gymnastics announced Mary Bono as interim president last Friday. And the criticism came quickly. Olympic champion Aly Raisman was among those upset that Bono worked for a law firm that, according to The Indianapolis Star, knew about sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar but didn't reveal them. Bono reportedly wasn't involved with the Nassar case when she worked for the firm, but critics didn't like the connection.

Then, this past weekend, another Olympic champ, Simone Biles spoke out about a recent tweet by Bono. In it, Bono blacked out the swoosh on her Nike golf shoes. She was criticizing the company's new ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick. The former NFL player created an uproar when he started taking a knee during national anthems to protest police treatment of minorities and social injustice.

Bono deleted the tweet and said she regretted the post. But many in the gymnastics community were angry. Jessica O'Beirne, host of the weekly podcast "GymCastic," says while the tweet was directed at Nike and Kaepernick, it resonated with the many female gymnasts who've spoken out about sexual abuse in the past year.

JESSICA O'BEIRNE: It's been athletes speaking out against crimes. This is what Kaepernick is doing. This is what Aly Raisman has done. This is what Simone Biles has done. We have to thank them for speaking out for change not say we don't agree with them and black out their sponsors with a marker.

GOLDMAN: In a resignation statement Bono noted she once was a young aspiring gymnast who witnessed abuse but stayed silent and that she would have worked hard in her new job to ensure no gymnast should have to choose between abuse and ambition. The USA Gymnastics' board of directors now ramps up for another search for another leader. Many hope the vetting process improves after what O'Beirne calls two huge hiring mistakes in a row. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF LRKR'S "POPS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
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