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Aly Raisman Praises Simone Biles and Calls U.S. Gymnastics 'Disaster'

Photo: Alex Livesey

Olympic Gold medalist Aly Raisman expressed concerns that former teammate Simone Biles wasn't getting enough support from USA Gymnastics for her decision to withdraw from the team all-around competition at the ongoing Tokyo Summer Olympics on Tuesday.

Raisman, who competed alongside Biles as part of USA Gymnastics' "Final Five" during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, discussed Biles' decision to withdraw due to mental health concerns with CNN's Jake Tapper on Tuesday, hours before Biles dropped out of the individual all-around competition on Wednesday.

"Having competed in two Olympics, it is so much pressure. And I think coming from the US, where we are lucky to have so many incredibly successful athletes, there's this pressure that we have to win," Raisman said.

Raisman also acknowledged that Biles' situation may hint at more issues behind the scenes at USA Gymnastics, which she referred to as being "an absolute disaster for years."

The organization has been at the center of controversy since Biles and Raisman led the U.S. women's team to a total of 12 gold medals at the 2016 Rio Games.

Since then, former team doctor Larry Nassar was revealed to have sexually abused hundreds of young women, including Biles and Raisman, who spoke at his 2018 sentencing for a de facto life sentence.

"Unfortunately, not enough has changed to believe in a safer future," Raisman told CNN. "I think this really just shows the lack of leadership at USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic Committee. Their best athlete is struggling and is someone there to help her? I think it's an important question that we should be asking. Does Simone have the support that she needs?" 

"I know it was not discussed much when I was training, and we didn't feel like we had access to mental health experts to help us through the stress, so that's definitely something that needs to change and they need to have that for these athletes." 

Raisman also showed support of her former teammate's decision in an Instagram post shared on Tuesday after Biles' announced withdrawal.

"Wish I could give you the biggest hug. Sending you all the love & support @simonebiles," Raisman shared along with two photos from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Biles, who won Gold in the 2016 all-around competition, cited mental health concerns for her decision to withdraw from the competition.

"After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in order to focus on her mental health, "USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Wednesday. "We wholeheartedly support Simone's decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many."

The 24-year-old is the most decorated gymnast in history, having won 27 Gold medals among 36 total between the Olympic Games, World Championships, Pacific Rim Championships, and FIG All-Around World Cup.

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