Olympic legend Aly Raisman likened the 'NWSL disaster' to USA Gymnastics' failures with Larry Nassar

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Aly Raisman comments on the NWSL's sexual abuse scandal.
Aly Raisman weighs in on the NWSL's sexual abuse scandal. Jose Argueta/ISI Photos/Getty Images; Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The National Women's Soccer League's handling of bombshell sexual abuse allegations against a prominent coach looks all too familiar to Aly Raisman.

The superstar Olympic gymnast has been an outspoken advocate for reform and accountability after coming forward as one of the hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. And from Raisman's vantage point, there's little difference between the NWSL's failure to act when players came forward with accusations of sexual coercion against former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley and USA Gymnastics' and the FBI's failure to act when gymnasts like herself reported Nassar as a child molester.

aly raisman larry nassar court
Raisman (right) testifies at Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

"The problem is bigger than any one abuser, like Nassar - it includes ALL enablers," Raisman posted on Twitter Monday afternoon. "Without a real investigation, we can't know who they are, what they knew & what they did or didn't do."

"This awful NWSL disaster involves at least one former high-ranking USOPC [US Olympic & Paralympic Committee] employee (Lisa Baird) and highlights what I've been saying for years," she continued. "Unless we get a full, independent investigation of the USOPC and affected orgs, we'll never understand the problem well enough to fix it, and the list of victims will grow. Congress, please demand a real investigation."

Last week, a bombshell report from The Athletic's Meg Linehan detailed accusations of sexual coercion and inappropriate comments against Riley and revealed startling mismanagement of the allegations by NWSL leadership. The Courage fired the two-time NWSL Coach of the Year the following day, and games were postponed across the league for the weekend to allow players and staff an opportunity to process what had occurred.

Just days after Linehan published her article, Baird - a former high-ranking executive with the US Olympic Committee - resigned as the NWSL's commissioner. The league also fired general counsel Lisa Levine and came forward with a "commitment to systemic transformation," including "several critical investigative and reform initiatives to protect players and staff," according to an NWSL statement published on Sunday.

Lisa Baird was a top-ranking employee with the US Olympic Committee before becoming the NWSL's commissioner.
Lisa Baird was a top-ranking employee with the US Olympic Committee before becoming the NWSL's commissioner. AP Photo/Lee Jin-man; Bryan Byerly/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The press release also made mention of the league's decision to hire a law firm "to oversee these investigations and make recommendations for reforms." They went with Covington & Burling, the same firm retained "to represent the US Olympic Committee in congressional investigations and lawsuits stemming from the sexual abuse of athletes by Larry Nassar," according to a 2018 Law360 article.

"Tell me you don't care about protecting players without telling me you don't care about protecting players," Raisman's mom, Lynn, wrote on Twitter in response to the revelation about Covington representing the league. Raisman later retweeted it.

What comes next in the fight for accountability in the NWSL - which has seen numerous abuse revelations in recent months - still remains to be seen. But as Raisman fights for answers of her own in the ongoing Nassar case, she'll undoubtedly be standing in solidarity with the "soccer players who have courageously come forward."

"Thank you for your bravery," she wrote on Twitter.

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