USA TODAY US Edition

Time to set new rules for sport team doc­tors

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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.

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