Former top gymnasts sue USA Gymnastics over organization having 'toxic culture'

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Two sisters who were trained by USA Gymnastics allege that the elite organization along with the U.S. Olympic Committee failed to protect vulnerable child athletes.

"I am done. I'm tired of pretending like it was a glamorous career and nothing bad happens," said Tasha Schwikert-Warren, a bronze medalist in the 2000 Olympics.

The sisters are among the 250 teens victimized by team doctor Larry Nassar, who is now serving a 60-year term in prison.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, the sisters said he examined them without any chaperone present. The elder sister Tasha said he explained once that he had to massage her vaginally because her injured Achilles tendon was connected to the vagina bone.

"I - we - didn't know what he was doing down there. He was telling us he was going to fix us and to make us better and all we wanted was to get back out on the floor and compete," Warren-Schwikert said.

Speaking at the law offices of Panish, Shea and Boyle, the sisters said their claim targets the top officials of the U.S. Olympics Committee and USA Gymnastics. The women accuse the groups of looking the other way and putting wins ahead of the teens' welfare - from food deprivation to excessive training.

"We must remember these athletes no matter how talented are still young children and what they experience in the gym will have a lasting impact in their life," Jordan Cobb said.

USA Gymnastics is already reeling from multiple lawsuits and the arrest of its former president on charges of evidence tampering.

A spokesman from the U.S. Olympics Committee referred Eyewitness News to an earlier statement as the USOC searches for a new interim chief.

It said in part, "The well-being of Team USA athletes is our top priority as we manage this process."

As the sisters proceed with their lawsuit and therapy, they reject critics who say champions are forged only through extreme discipline.

"It can be healthy. It can be happy, and we can succeed. I know we can," the former Olympian said.
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