Exclusive: GSD Deviates from Tradition to Honor Courageous Gymnasts

(ATR) Gymnasts who blew the whistle on Larry Nassar's abuse to receive prestigious award.

Rio de Janeiro - Ginastas dos Estados Unidos levam medalha de ouro na disputa por equipes feminina nos Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016, Rússia fica com a prata e China, o bronze. (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)
Rio de Janeiro - Ginastas dos Estados Unidos levam medalha de ouro na disputa por equipes feminina nos Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016, Rússia fica com a prata e China, o bronze. (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

(ATR) Gymnasts who blew the whistle on Larry Nassar's abuse will be recognized for their bravery at a special awards ceremony next month.

Hosted by the Foundation for Global Sports Development (GSD), the ceremony will honor the more than 200 women who testified against the former team doctor of USA Gymnastics and helped deliver a cumulative 360-year prison sentence (federal and local).

The gymnasts will be the first group of people to receive the GSD’s prestigious Humanitarian Award, given to those that "preserve the values of fair play and sportsmanship in the world of sports".

"With the current culture of abuse, we felt we needed to deviate away from the traditional award and previous recipients," said GSD executive board member Dr. Steven Ungerleider.

"We wanted to honor the champions of the Olympic movement who had the courage to come forward at risk to their careers, family and privacy to blow the whistle on sexual assault and predatory behavior in venues around the country."

Several Olympians and gold medalists are included in the women who came forward to help end the pattern of abuse, including Rio 2016 medalists Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

These gymnasts could soon help prevent further assaults in addition to helping put a serial abuser behind bars.

GSD is donating $1 million to start an educational program with gymnastics ambassadors to educate others about changing the culture in sport that allowed this abuse to persist for decades.

"We are thrilled to not only honor these incredible athletes, but to announce the new program that has the capacity to serve communities and individuals throughout the United States," said GSD executive board member David Ulich. "We hope that by helping to spread awareness and prevention education, this type of behavior and abuse will be abolished from sport completely."

GSD’s non-profit production company Sidewinder Films is also producing a documentary to chronicle the horrific Larry Nassar abuse saga with a special emphasis on the system that allowed the abuse to continue. The release date of the film is still to be determined.

Gymnasts will receive the Humanitarian Award at a ceremony in Los Angeles in March 2018.

Previous winners of the GSD Humanitarian Award include IOC Vice President Anita DeFrantz, former International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven and WADA’s first president Richard Pound.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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