John Geddert's suicide was an "escape from justice" and 'traumatising beyond words," said Sarah Klein, a former gymnast who trained under the US Olympic coach. Geddert died by suicide Thursday after Michigan authorities announced several charges against him, including human trafficking.
Geddert was the US Olympic coach for the 2012 team that won a gold medal in London with a team that included Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney.
"His suicide is an admission of guilt that the entire world can now see," Klein, who is now a lawyer, said Thursday.
It is alleged that Geddert used force, fraud and coercion against young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training for financial benefit to him. The victims suffered from disordered eating including bulimia, anorexia, suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform, even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault.
Geddert had ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar.
The sports world is reeling from significant disruptions including the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition have been revelations for a number of years of poor governance, doping, sexual abuse, corruption and a number of allegations of acts that go against the values and spirit of sport.
Facts are stubborn things. The myth of sport as a safe space and an exemplary aqueduct of Corinthian values and a panacea for the ills of society and the world have been exposed as just that, a myth.
Delusional, self-absorbed and hypocritical. For years dark secrets have been hidden. The male-dominated safe space for men and their deviance. The ethos of what happens on tour stayed on tour- the dressing room culture of circling the wagons. There was a time when sport and organised sport was leisure for the elite, rich and moneyed class. It was for the upper class who could afford leisure time. The purity of play a.k.a sport was distorted many, many moons ago.
With the advent of television, broadcast rights and sports as entertainment sports - as a business became the fiefdom of capitalism. Sports were long ago taken away from the naive and idealistic. But the same can be said of every single human endeavour and activity. There was a time in human history when life was simple and less contrived.
Name one invention and human activity that has not been used by the devious and mendicant amongst humanity for their selfish and self-interest at the expense of the majority and less fortunate. Sport truth be told has been a disguise for unsavoury and criminal behaviour for awhile.
As unpleasant and deeply disturbing as revelations may be, there are more to come. The cover-up can no longer continue. Historical, recent, ongoing misbehaviour and criminal behaviour must be exposed. Those brave enough to blow the whistle must not be made the villains. The era of protecting and sustaining the myth is over.
The traditional power structures of global sport are deeply embedded within the entire sports ecosystem. Many who say they want to challenge or change the power structure aren't really interested in doing so. They really want to themselves access the privilege afforded by the power structure and benefit from it.
Capitalism oppressed first and indigenous people, women, black people, people of colour and the working class. Capitalism as a socio-economic system is built and sustained by racism and sexism. Facts are stubborn things. The transition of feudalism to capitalism in Europe and the power structure built by the rich, white often male ruling class, tells its own story.
At the beginning of the 20th century in Western Europe, most female sports were exclusive to wealthier, upper-class groups who had time to spare.
Those who claim they want reform and to harness sport and the Olympic values and ideals as a powerful platform to make the world a better place for the good of humankind must have an honest, open and uncomfortable conversation that calls into question some generally accepted beliefs and myths.
It's not about rewriting history it's about facing up to the stubborn facts of the history of sport and, in particular, the Olympic and Commonwealth sports movements. Embrace the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to reset and create meaningful and significant change, transformation and impact. Bring to an end the culture of cover-up, turning a blind eye and denial.