McKayla Maroney is shedding light on the circumstances that allowed Larry Nassar to conduct his campaign of abuse.
Speaking to Elle in a new interview, Maroney, 25, called Karolyi Ranch, the now-shuttered US women’s gymnastics national team training facility run by Béla and Martha Károlyi, “a perfect breeding ground for Nassar to sneak in” and prey on young girls.
“We were not treated like Olympians, we were treated like we were in a military camp,” the retired gymnast said. “Our coaches were so focused on us being skinny and us being the best to get the gold medal for their own ego.”
After being molested by the disgraced doctor at one of her first training camps, Maroney said that he told her, “‘You know, to be a great athlete, we sometimes have to do things that other people wouldn’t do.’
“Basically, he was silencing me and saying, ‘This is what it takes to be great.’”
Earlier this month, Maroney went public with a slew of disturbing details about Nassar, including that he had lied to her coach about her broken foot during the 2012 London Olympics, forcing her to compete with the injury.
When Maroney went to an older teammate with stories of what she suffered at Nassar’s hands, she said she was “told to ‘shut the f–k up, and don’t ever say anything like that about Larry Nassar again.’”
Maroney said she underwent “miracle surgery” after the London Games, but being forced to compete with the injury “literally risk[ed] the rest of my gymnastics career.”
After speaking out against Nassar in 2018, Maroney battled an eating disorder, going for as long as three days without eating.
“I already had that obsessive control thing, so it just switched from gymnastics to food,” she told Elle. “I forgot I had ever even been successful at gymnastics, because I went from being great to feeling like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m ugly, I’m gaining weight, I’m suffering with food, and I just went through all this abuse.’
“I want to be looked at as someone who just keeps going, because that’s what we have to do in this life,” she told the mag. “For so long, I was surviving. Now I feel I’m actually living.”
Nassar, 58, is currently serving a 175-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2018 on charges of child pornography and sexual assault of minors.