Every four years, young female gymnasts from all over the world draw the eyes of many nations and become stars of the summer Olympics. But with less than a year to Rio 2016′s opening ceremony, a Team USA gymnastics coach faces state and federal charges of child molestation and child pornography.
The coach, Marvin Sharp, owns and directs Sharp’s Gymnastics Academy in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was arrested on August 25, 2015, on suspicion of child molestation. Two days later, he appeared in court to hear the state charges against him: four counts of child molestation and three counts of sexual misconduct
In the investigation that followed Sharp’s arrest, officers searched his home and business and found thousands of child pornography images. Sharp faces additional federal charges related to the child pornography.
USA Gymnastics issued a statement the day of Sharp’s arrest. They affirmed that athlete safety is their top priority, saying these charges go against their philosophy and standards. They also stated they are cooperating with investigators regarding Sharp’s case.
Still, when situations like this arise, it’s helpful to examine how coaches become Team USA and Olympic team coaches. To qualify as a Team USA gymnastics coach, coaches must obtain a membership with USA Gymnastics. Membership requirements include a background check that lasts two years. Any coach at a Team USA–sponsored gymnastic event must have a membership.
Team USA Gymnastics coaches become Olympic coaches only if an athlete they train earns a spot as an Olympic athlete. To earn the five open spots, gymnasts must place among the top competitors at the US Olympic Trials. The individual all-around champion earns an automatic spot; a selection committee names four other team members and up to three alternates. Read the rest of this entry →