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Simone Biles named one of Time's "100 Most Influential People" as she takes a stand against a system that perpetrated abuse

Simone Biles on "crisis of abuse" in sports
Simone Biles on "crisis of abuse" in sports 06:39

On the same day that gymnast Simone Biles was named one of Time magazine's most influential people of 2021, she was speaking out against a system of injustice. Biles spent Wednesday testifying before Congress about how the U.S. justice system failed to stop former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar from sexually abusing her and others.

The decorated Olympian and world champion, who first went public with her story in 2018, is one of  dozens of young athletes abused by Nassar before his arrest in 2016. He is now serving decades in prison.

As Time unveiled its list of the 100 most influential people on Wednesday, Biles was providing heartbreaking testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about how officials failed her and others. She and fellow gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Railman spoke powerfully of their experiences with Nassar and the investigation into his abuse.

"Over the course of my gymnastics career, I have won 25 world championship medals and seven Olympic medals for Team USA," Biles said. "I am also a survivor of sexual abuse." 

"I believe without a doubt that the circumstances that led to my abuse and allowed it to continue are directly the result of the fact that the organizations created by Congress to oversee and protect me as an athlete, USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committees failed to do their jobs," she said. "... To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse."

Biles told the committee that nobody from the FBI had contacted her or her parents about the investigation into Nassar while she was a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. She said she wasn't told of the massive scope of the investigation until after the Games, despite the Justice Department finding that USA Gymnastics had reported the allegations to the FBI as early as July 2015. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that investigators made "totally unacceptable" errors and that an agent who failed to act on one gymnast's accusations and later lied about his actions has been fired.

Biles said her goal now is to ensure that others do not suffer as she did. 

"I don't want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured, before, during and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse," she said. 

Biles withdrew from most of her events at this summer's Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health, but still won a bronze medal on the beam.

Former U.S. Olympian calls Biles a role model... 02:19

Biles' openness about what she's endured embodies the strength that tennis star Serena Williams highlighted in her profile of Biles for Time's "100 Most Influential People" issue.

"She has cemented herself as one of the most decorated American gymnasts of all time. But when she's not on the mat or competing in front of the world, Simone strikes the powerful balance between humility and confidence," Williams wrote, saying that Biles' "greatest work" is what she manages to do outside of the gym. 

"By living her truth so loudly and by championing mental health, she is setting new standards of beauty, strength and resilience, breaking down today's image-obsessed stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same," Williams wrote. 

"What she embodies truly reflects the endless potential of a Black woman. ... Simone is a shining example of what success looks like when you let go of what the world thinks and gather your strength from yourself … from your soul."

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