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As scandal escalates, USA Gymnastics cuts ties with Karolyi Ranch

© AFP | Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is pictured here following his sentencing hearing in Lansing, Michigan on January 16

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - 

USA Gymnastics announced Thursday it will cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch, a longtime training center for elite athletes, some of whom say they were sexually abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar there.

The facility has been the training ground for gold-medal winning American gymnasts, including Simone Biles, a star of the 2016 Rio Games who revealed this week she was abused by Nassar at the training center in Huntsville, Texas.

"It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO (of USA Gymnastics) in December," said Kerry Perry, who was in a Michigan court this week to listen to women deliver impact statements during a sentencing hearing for Nassar.

"Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes."

In joining other athletes who reported abuse by Nassar, Biles said in a statement on Twitter on Monday that the thought of returning to the Karolyi Ranch was painful.

"It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused," she wrote.

The 53-year-old Nassar has been accused of molesting more than 100 female athletes during the three decades he worked with USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State University.

Nassar, who could face life in prison, has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing young girls under the guise of medical treatment.

His case was part of a wide ranging scandal that forced the resignation of USA Gymnastics chief Steve Penny in March of last year.

© 2018 AFP