Around the Gymternet: Aaand we’re back


“It’s an incredible sacrifice to speak out.”

-2017 Gymternet Person of the Year Rachael Denhollander in an interview with gymnastics videographer Deanna Hong.

The bombshell

Help. I’m living under a rock. What’s happening? McKayla Maroney filed a lawsuit last Wednesday alleging that USA Gymnastics “coerced” her into signing a confidentiality clause–part of a $1.25 million settlement–in an effort to cover up national team doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse. The suit claims that the confidentiality portion of the settlement is illegal in California.

The lawsuit also mentions USAG’s tweet wishing Maroney a happy birthday and congratulating her on her bravery for coming forward—ironic since in doing so, Maroney broke her agreement with USAG.

This rock is heavy. What does USAG say? They say the settlement was legal, and that Maroney’s then-attorney Gloria Allred initiated it.

What about the USOC? The suit alleges that the US Olympic Committee and Michigan State University, along with USAG, concealed their knowledge of Nassar’s abuse. The USOC says they had no knowledge of the abuse or the agreement, and MSU has yet to respond.

Who’s John Manly? That’s Maroney’s current attorney, who filed the suit. In an interview, he said that Fran Sepler, then a member of the US SafeSport board, failed to report Maroney’s abuse to the authorities when she first interviewed her in January 2016. He also says USAG wrote the agreement.

Required reading: 10.0 Gymnastics of Fort Worth’s Head Coach Dallas Gust’s open letter to USAG.

The state of Michigan

Please help. I can’t lift the rock: So sorry to hear that. Police reports show that MSU knew about Larry Nassar’s conduct and still allowed him to see patients for more than two years.

The G-men are here: The FBI interviewed MSU employees to see what, if anything, they knew, and when.

Star status

A “break”? What’s that? Smokey-eyed goddess Aliya Mustafina announced that she will compete AA at Russian Champs in April, reports Gymnovosti. Check out this hot take from self-professed AA champ @Jordynsleftbrow.

When I dipa you dipa we dipa: India’s badass cannonball enthusiast Dipa Karmakar is on the mend after a knee injury, but she’s not done with the Produnova quite yet, according to her coach.

Wait don’t go: Belgian world and Olympic team member Laura Waem has announced her retirement after tearing her Achilles back in September.

Voronin Cup

She’s baaaaack: Silver swan Viktoria Komova placed second in the all-around at her first competition in two years, and compatriot Angelina Melnikova took the gold. Here’s a recap, and here are full results.

Chuso was there: Oksana Chusovitina graced the audience with her divine presence, winning her 23,783,345th gold medal on vault. Gymnovosti reports that she plans to compete AA soon.

NCAA Corner

Welcome freshmen: In part two of our NCAA Elites series, this year’s freshman class includes one country’s first-ever Olympic WAG athlete.

Because you asked…

Why isn’t Team GB called Team UK? It’s complicated. Wtf happened to Elfi Schlegel? It’s pretty simple.

Staying social

On the market: Men’s gymspert Uncle Tim keeps tabs on former USAG president Steve Penny’s whereabouts so you don’t have to.

#Damily4Eva: Speaking of Mr. Penny, if you’ve ever wondered how he felt about Make It Or Break It, here’s the inside scoop. Meanwhile, my heart still beats only for Sasha.

That’s gotta hurt: Russian senior Uliana Perebinosova took a nasty beam fall at the Voronin Cup, but precious metals expert Simone Biles feels her pain.

Need to know

The best of the best of the best, sir: Who had the top scores in AA and on each apparatus this year? Take it all in, with a grain of salt.

2018 is coming: Mark your calendar and tell your boss you might be sick that week.

Last words

What was your favorite gym moment of 2017? Tell us, now. YOU CAN DO IT.

Want to help out and qualify for super fun rewards for as little as $1/month? Check us out on Patreon!

Follow The Gymternet on Twitter and like us on Facebook.


14 thoughts on “Around the Gymternet: Aaand we’re back

  1. Maroney’s complaint does not allege that USA Gymnastics coerced her into a 1.25 million nondisclosure agreement and that the settlement agreement is illegal.

    First, the settlement agreement is the entire agreement between Maroney and USA Gymnastics. Maroney specifically alleges that the majority of the agreement is LEGAL because she does not want the agreement declared illegal and thus null and void. If that was her argument, she would have to return the money.

    Nor does Maroney take issue with the payment. The complaint states that the “overriding, predominant, and mutual assent” (mutual agreement) between the parties was the settlement of a claim of childhood sexual abuse in return for sufficient monetary compensation (reported 1.25 million), and that the damages compensate Maroney for her psychological trauma. Maroney does not allege, nor do the provisions of the settlement agreement contained within her complaint indicate, that the payment was made to silence her, made in exchange for the confidentiality clauses, or for the purpose of covering up the abuse. As both USA gymnastics and Maroney claim, the payment of damages to settle the claim is perfectly legal.

    What Maroney does allege is that she was coerced into signing FOUR PROVISIONS within the settlement agreement: (1) the confidentiality clause, (2) the arbitration/liquidated damages clause, (3) the non-disparagement clause, and (4) a clause requiring her parents to abide by the aforementioned clauses. These clauses are found in virtually every settlement agreement, both sides negotiated the clause, and both parties signed it. Now I am going to speculate that the argument of “the clauses I don’t like were coerced but the clauses I do like weren’t coerced so Judge, declare only the clauses I don’t like invalid,” will not be successful. But I am not a Judge, and if any Judge is going to buy this argument, please let it be at the expense of USA Gymnastics, as they CERTAINLY deserve it.

    Additionally, Maroney alleges that the CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE violates CA law and thus should be declared invalid. While CONFIDENTIAL agreements settling claims of child sexual abuse are illegal under CA law, agreements settling claims of child sexual abuse are not. As mentioned above, Maroney is not claiming that the settlement was illegal, because she would lose the money; she is alleging only that the confidential aspect of the agreement is illegal. And while it is possible for her to succeed depending on facts yet unknown, the first sentence of the confidentiality clause begins with “To the extent permitted by law,” suggesting she may not succeed.

    To sum everything up, Maroney does not allege that the settlement agreement is illegal, she does not allege that the payment was illegal, and she does not allege that the payment was made in exchange for her silence. She is seeking only declaratory relief and requests that the 4 clauses be declared invalid and unenforceable such that she is not subject to damages for having violated the confidentiality provisions.

    I just wanted to offer a little legal insight for anyone interested and provide some clarification (and in no way, shape, or form, condone the atrocious, disgusting, and inhumane nature of USA Gymnastics) because reading all the “USA Gymnastics pays Olympic gymnast 1.25 million dollars to keep quiet about abuse” headlines has inflamed my inner lawyer. And please excuse my aggressive use of capitalization, it was the only substitute for italics!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! The clarity is much appreciated where it is hard to cut through the headlines and articles are only selectively including information.

      If I may ask a potentially stupid question, since the previous agreement was only with USA Gymnastics and she is only suing to be let out of certain clauses from the previous agreement, why are the USOC and MSU included in the new suit? That is one aspect that is confusing me.


      • Erin,

        Plaintiff’s can request different remedies from different defendants in lawsuits resulting from the same event. So while Maroney is suing USA Gym to prevent enforcement of the four clauses, she is suing the USOC, MSU, Karolyi’s, etc. for damages (like those she already received from USA Gym through the settlement).


    • Hi Rien! I wrote this.

      Honestly, I’ve been fact checking my ass off and lying awake at night worrying that I’d get something wrong. But I really really appreciate you chiming in–I have no legal education and, therefore, am not really qualified to go through the suit line by line and translate as you have done. Instead, I looked at the LA Times article, as I thought it was a good overview of the situation.

      Are you saying they’ve misread the suit, or have I oversimplified their reading of the suit? It seems like they–and other outlets–don’t really differentiate between parts of the settlement, and call the whole thing a “confidential financial settlement,” as if the money were a part of the confidentiality portion. Would the following be more accurate?

      “McKayla Maroney filed a lawsuit last Wednesday alleging that USA Gymnastics “coerced” her into signing a confidentiality clause–part of a $1.25 million settlement–in an effort to cover up national team doctor Larry Nassar’s abuse. The suit claims that the confidentiality portion of the settlement is illegal in California.”

      Again, thanks so much for your comment–I’d hate to spread misinformation in these trying times.


      • Hi,

        I completely understand! I wasn’t able to really understand what was happening until I was able to read the complaint so thank you for including the link! For whatever reason (probably stemming from the twisted manner in which Maroney’s attorney announced the lawsuit combined with the media’s desire to make USA Gym look as horrendous as possible at the moment), the headlines since the news came out have all been slightly incorrect by implying that Maroney was paid to keep the abuse quiet. You re-wrote it perfectly!


    • Thank you for writing this! I got blasted on Twitter trying to explain to people that the settlement was being mischaracterized as hush money. Everyone thinks that USAG paid her off to shut her up and that’s not the case. Where did you find the complaint? I’ve been trying to find it so I could get a clearer picture of what was going on.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but from the information I found, it sounded like confidentiality was an issue because McKayla’s new attorneys (the ones filing this suit are different from the lawyer who negotiated the settlement) are/were representing other athletes in civil suits back on 2016 when the settlement was reached and wanted access to the agreement to see what was in it, presumably to help their cases. Did the confidentiality clause mean she couldn’t speak about her abuse at all or did it just mean that she couldn’t discuss the terms of the settlement itself?

      As a sidenote, it really bugs me that the media is mischaracterizing what’s going on. Without context, it makes it look like USAG tried to buy silence and it also makes it look like McKayla took the bait and is monetizing her trauma (i.e. it sounds like she negotiated a settlement then decided that wasnt good enough, came out with her story, and is now suing for more), which is a stigma that paints victims in a bad light and subjects them to even more scrutiny even though that approach is valid. It’s terrible all around. I’m 110% on the side of the victims, but I hope people aren’t forgetting that USAG isn’t a person. It’s not Nassar. It’s an organization…an entity…that was/is ran by corrupt people who screwed over so many little girls. Get rid of those people (which I don’t understand why clean-sweeping the BoD hasn’t happened yet) and there are still good people involved who want to effect change/make gymnastics a safe place and little girls with dreams of representing their country at the highest level. Change definitely needs to happen and the victims deserve validation…I just hope we can pursue that without hurting future athletes’ opportunities. They don’t deserve that any more than the victims deserved to be victimized.


      • The confidentiality clause is as follows:

        “To the extent permitted by law, the parties agree that they will maintain
        the strictest confidentiality and will not communicate, make known or
        divulge to any person any information whatsoever regarding the existence
        of any claim between the parties, the facts underlying such claim, the terms
        of this agreement, or even the fact of a settlement including but not limited
        to the negotiations, the fact that the Agreement exists, and any consideration
        received except where disclosure is compelled pursuant to legal process or
        for reporting such purposes to the federal, state or local taxing authorities
        or to lawyers, accountants engaged for such purposes, or engaged in
        connection with this Agreement or any dispute existing hereunder, who
        shall likewise make no disclosures to others. Exception to this agreement
        shall be disclosures to Claimant’s parents, mental health provider,
        accountants or attorneys. The parties acknowledged and understand that this
        paragraph prohibits them and their agents and attorneys from disclosing the
        terms of this settlement Agreement or the fact that this agreement, exists to
        extended family, friends or others.”

        So my guess is that Maroney wants the clause declared invalid because she likely violated it when she took to social media and explicitly described the “facts underlying” her claim against USA Gym. Same with the non-disparagement clause. If the clause is declared invalid, USA Gym cannot recover damages from Maroney for violating the clause (this is supported by the fact that Maroney is also trying to get the liquidated damages/arbitration clause which establishes penalties for violated the confidentiality clause, declared invalid). Additionally, if this case goes to trial, Maroney will certainly want to divulge information barred by the clauses. And, the clauses could be preventing Maroney from making money off her story from book deals etc. These, in my view, are the most likely reasons for why she wants it declared invalid.

        Unfortunately, we will probably never find out why because this case will almost certainly result in another settlement agreement. The defendants, already facing such massively negative publicity, will not want to risk going to trial against such a prominent figure who has such strong support and Maroney could avoid a lengthy, expensive, and potentially traumatic trial.

        The complaint is located here:


  2. And to answer the question, McKayla isn’t alleging that USAG coerced her into signing a settlement in an effort to cover up Nassar’s abuse. She’s alleging that she entered into a valid settlement agreement with USAG, but there are 4 clauses in that agreement that should be declared invalid and thus, unenforceable, confidentiality being one of those clauses. The media misstated the purpose and legality of the agreement itself and it mischaracterized the nature and purpose of McKayla’s suit.


    • What Mckayla suffered was really disheartening but why did she even agreed to sign those? I hope she really knows what she is doing and is really involved with her case like how Aly is. I just feel like she is being taken advantage by her parents or whoever manages her. It is not their name on the line but Mckayla.


      • From what I’ve read, she needed the money. In her letter to the judge, McKayla’s mom said McKayla can’t work or do anything and stays in her room a lot. Supposedly McKayla’s former attorney initiated settlement mediation so McKayla could get money to pay for counseling and therapy. She’s an adult so I would imagine that her parents wouldn’t be involved unless she allowed them to be. The money would go directly to her since she’s over the age of 18. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her accepting a settlement. Who knows what kind of athlete she would have been or what kind of life she’d have now if Nassar hadn’t had the opportunity to abuse her? She deserves to be compensated for that, and usually compensation comes with conditions. She probably felt it was worth it at the time and that’s her choice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Keeping the abuse and settlement confidential was I am sure, in Maroney’s best interest at some point. Imagine such a personal and traumatic event publicly broadcasted before Maroney had herself come to terms with what happened and received counseling. Back when the agreement was signed, Maroney was facing particularly negative publicity and comments on social media in response to her “inappropriate” lifestyle, her “failing to be a good role model,” and her personal life choices. Luckily, the response to Maroney’s allegations have been largely supportive, but it is no secret that our society has some serious issues with victim shaming and failing to support women such that Maroney may have, at some point, wanted to keep the abuse secret forever. Additionally, Maroney’s attorney, Gloria Allred, is known for negotiating controversial cases, particularly those involving women’s rights, and I cannot imagine any scenario in which Allred would allow Maroney to sign a agreement that was not in her best interest.


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