Steve Penny resigned as president of USA Gymnastics on Thursday following intensified pressure on the organization for its handling of sex abuse cases, the AP reports. The resignation came a week after the US Olympic Committee's board recommended to USA Gymnastics chairman Paul Parilla that Penny should step down. Penny offered his resignation during a previously scheduled board meeting on Thursday. "My decision to step aside as CEO is solely to support the best interests of USA Gymnastics at this time," Penny said in a statement. USOC chairman Larry Probst said the move "will hopefully allow USA Gymnastics to shift its attention to the future with a secure environment for its athletes and continued success in competition."
Penny joined USA Gymnastics in 1999 and was named the organization's president in 2005, overseeing one of the greatest runs in Olympic history. But the program's healthy, winning image took a serious hit in recent months following an investigation by the Indianapolis Star that portrayed USA Gymnastics as slow to act when it came to addressing allegations of sexual abuse by a team doctor and coaches at member gyms across the country. Former team doctor Larry Nassar is being sued in federal court by 69 women and girls who allege abuse. "The board believes this change in leadership will help USA Gymnastics face its current challenges and implement solutions to move the organization forward in promoting a safe environment for its athletes at all levels," Parilla said in a statement. (Read more gymnastics stories.)