“Athlete A” shows you the ugly face of a system that wants winners at any cost
With its new documentary “Athlete A”, Netflix uncovers the terrifying history of abuse in the USA Gymnastics Squad and details the culture within the organization that made it possible for a predatory pederast to systematically abuse aspiring athletes. What’s most shocking about this deeply dark documentary is the cover up for the perpetrator even after journalists from the Indianapolis Star had begun reporting on the accusations.
Through their thorough investigations and research these journalists uncovered systematic physical and sexual abuse: Young athletes had to train 35 hours or more per week with fractured backs or broken toes. And when they reached out for medical help the real nightmare just begun: As a team doc Nassar positioned himself as a friend to the athletes but behind the smiling face lurked the predator: He repeatedly molested the children and teenager he should’ve taken care of, benefitting from the structures of the system that fed these children to him. His terror reign went on and on for over two decades as the institutional failures protected him instead of his survivors.
Survivors – not victims. That’s how the protagonists from Athlete A describe themselves and it’s in more than one way truly admirable how these brave women came forward to send Dr. Larry Nassar to prison. He’s currently serving a total prison time of 360 years and has been convicted on 10 counts of assault so far. But the documentary doesn’t focus on him but on the women that survived him and therefore Netflix grants them something their abuser never did: the perception of whole human beings with own stories to tell and own their own dreams to still work on, no matter how devastating their experiences has been.
Sadly the documentary doesn’t have a neat end because this story is far from being over: more and more survivors of Nassar came forward with their individual stories - right now over 250 women.
“Athlete A” is available on Netflix from the 24.06.2020 onwards: