| USA TODAY Sports
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Before gymnastics it was swimming. And taekwondo. And speedskating. And judo.
Time and again, it passed the buck, throwing up its hands instead of moving to act. The individual sports federations were independent, the USOC line went, so their rules and the predators they enabled were out of the USOC’s hands.
Only now, with Congress breathing down the USOC’s neck again and two senators calling for CEO Scott Blackmun to resign, has the USOC finally acknowledged the magnitude of its failures.
Probst’s apology was both appropriate and long overdue.
But it wasn’t nearly enough.
USA Gymnastics is deserving of much of the anger and rage that’s been directed its way. Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber are among the more than 260 women abused by Nassar, the longtime national team physician, and the rigid culture imposed by Martha Karolyi with the full support of the federation undoubtedly helped him go undetected for the better part of two decades.
Like take action when NGB heads point out that the Olympic movement is an abuse crisis in the making and ask the USOC to develop a uniform policy to protect young athletes, as the then-head of USA Gymnastics did in 1999 and the head of USA Swimming did in 2004 and 2005.
Step in when athletes tell the USOC they were abused, as speedskaters and taekwondo athletes did in 2011. And 2013. And 2014. Follow up when an NGB says it has reported a predator to the FBI, as USA Gymnastics, according to the Wall Street Journal, did – twice – in the summer of 2015.
All of these failings are laid out in a memo by a group that calls itself The Committee to Restore Integrity to the USOC.
No more. The USOC bears as much blame as anyone for Nassar’s abuse going unchecked, because it had the opportunity to put stiffer protections in place years before and didn’t bother.
Probst said the USOC will consider restructuring its “relationships” with the NGBs to give the USOC more oversight. That’s a start, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
But the USOC must go further. It forced USA Gymnastics’ then-president and CEO Steve Penny to resign last March, and has demanded a complete overhaul in the federation’s culture. It’s not as if the USOC is any better, however, and someone needs to answer for that.
But that investigation wouldn’t be needed had the USOC done its job after any of the other abuse scandals. Gymnastics, swimming, taekwondo, speedskating, judo. How many more children’s lives will be ruined before the USOC finally gets it right?
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.