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Olympians Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian speak out on Larry Nassar abuse

Olympians speak out on Larry Nassar abuse
Olympians Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian speak out on Larry Nassar abuse 07:34

First on "CBS This Morning," gymnasts and Olympic gold medalists Kyla Ross and Madison Kocian are coming forward with their stories of sexual abuse by former U.S. national team doctor, Larry Nassar. Nassar is serving up to 235 years in prison after he was found guilty of sexually abusing athletes in his care for decades.

"It was almost like a family member," Kocian said of their relationship with Nassar. "And he would on international trips, he would bring us food. Or he would just kind of be the person that would always ask, 'how are you doing?' Because the culture that was at the Karolyi Ranch was a culture of fear, a culture of silence. And that's what led him to be able to abuse us."

The Karolyi Ranch in Texas was the main training facility for the U.S. national teams run by legendary coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi. CBS News reached out to the Karolyis, who responded, "No comment." The Karolyis previously denied any knowledge of the abuse allegations until the summer of 2016. 

"Being on national team for all those years, we were really silenced. We didn't really have a voice and say as athletes," Ross said.   

Ross competed in the 2012 Olympics as a member of the famous "Fierce Five," winning a team gold medal. Kocian won a silver medal on the uneven bars as a member of the 2016 Olympic team. She also won a team gold medal. Both are members of the current NCAA champion UCLA gymnastics team, led by coach Valorie Kondos Field, a 36-year veteran. 

Kondos Field said she herself thought Nassar was a "gentleman," and she initially couldn't wrap her head around the abuse.

"The USA Gymnastics was more concerned in protecting Martha Karolyi than checking in on our children," Kondos Field said. The young athletes had nowhere to turn, she added.

"They were so isolated at the ranch. And we protected Martha so much. You didn't question Martha," Kondos Field said. "Nobody questioned Martha. Why? Because she won. And when I asked why do we allow – I was just talking about verbal abuse and the mental abuse – why do we allow that? They said – they looked at me like I was crazy. They said because she wins, Val." 

USA Gymnastics told CBS News in a statement: "USA Gymnastics support is unwavering for Kyla, Madison and all athletes who courageously came forward to share their experiences. Their powerful voices and stories will continue to be a basis for our future decisions."

"Personally, we both have not heard anything [from USA Gymnastics]," Ross said. "And it's been saddening to know that a lot of gymnasts have gone through this event and they have not reached out and seen how we're doing as people, not as just athletes, but as individuals who grew up in this sport."

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