USA TODAY US Edition
Time to set new rules for sport team doctors
Sadly, yet another story of blatant sexual misconduct against unsuspecting victims who’ve been in a trusting relationship with their abuser. While the sacrosanct judicial principle of “innocent until proven guilty” precedes the accusations leveled by two former gymnasts, including an Olympic medalist, against a longtime team physician for the prestigious U.S. Gymnastics team, this cannot be taken lightly. This is a wake-up call to review the medical protocol for team doctors who oversee the health and well-being of many underage girls, as well as boys.
Gymnastics, and all other sports, should ensure that if physical examination of female members are conducted by a male doctor, it should be in the presence of a registered female nurse, without any exceptions. In fact, girls should be given a choice of a designated male or a female doctor, and the same should be for boys.
It’s a shame that team doctors who are de facto protectors of these young athletes become tormentors in the privacy of their examination room. By all standards, this criminality and breach of faith warrant prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. I hope that the U.S. Gymnastics team conducts a thorough inquiry into these allegations, and that they immediately instill preventive measures to preempt any sexual misconduct under their watch. Atul M. Karnik Woodside, N.Y.