Libby Bailey, the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s assistant director of investigations, in July wrote to former gymnasts and their parents at a suburban Chicago gymnastics club that SafeSport was in “the process of drafting the comprehensive final report” following a two-year investigation into dozens of physical, verbal and emotional allegations against Anna Li, an alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team and UCLA All-American, and her mother Jiani Wu, an Olympic medalist for China and former USA Gymnastics national team coach, according to an email obtained by the Southern California News Group.

“We ask that you continue to be patient as we work through the information gathered in the investigation,” Bailey wrote in a July 19 email to gymnasts and parents. “We will continue to provide updates as they become available.”

Yet nearly two months later and more than two years since the U.S. Center for SafeSport received the first of at least 30 complaints by more than a dozen individuals alleging repeated abuse of young gymnasts by Li, Wu, and another coach, Rebecca Thone, in August 2019, SafeSport has not issued a ruling in the case.

“They said the investigation was over in July and we’re in September. What’s going on?” said Ed Fitzgerald, a former Legacy parent. “Inaction is akin to basically letting them off the hook. Inaction is giving them free rein, it’s saying everything is fine.”

Documents obtained by SCNG and interviews with former gymnasts and their parents at Legacy Elite Gymnastics, the suburban Chicago club owned by Li and Wu’s family, also contradict Bailey’s pledge to keep families updated on the status of the investigation.

Instead, it has often taken Bailey and other U.S. Center for SafeSport officials weeks and even months to respond to multiple emails and phone calls from parents, gymnasts and their attorneys, if Center employees have responded at all, according to SafeSport documents and interviews.

Parents said they have not heard from Bailey since the July 19 email despite multiple requests for updates.

Gymnasts and parents said they are also frustrated and outraged by SafeSport’s refusal to place Li and Wu on interim suspension despite multiple complaints that the coaches have allegedly continued to abuse and intimidate gymnasts since the Center took jurisdiction over the case in 2019, according to interviews and confidential complaints filed with SafeSport.

Li, a former member of the influential USA Gymnastics athletes council, tried to intimidate a former Legacy gymnast at an Illinois meet in March, according to complaints and documents submitted to SafeSport. The gymnast and her mother have filed complaints with SafeSport alleging physical, verbal and emotional abuse by Li and Wu, according to SafeSport documents and interviews.

SafeSport has denied multiple requests to place Li and Wu on interim suspension, according to documents and interviews. The most recent interim suspension request was made in April, according to Fitzgerald.

“You have serious, serious physical and emotional abuse allegations from a plethora of families,” Fitzgerald said. “At what point do the rights of victims (equal) the rights of the perpetrators? Because right now the victims’ rights are getting stomped on (by the U.S. Center for SafeSport) while perpetrators get to run wild and nothing gets done. Zero. It’s like everything is normal (at Legacy), nothing’s wrong.”

Bailey did not respond to a request for comment.

An attorney for Li and Wu also did not respond to a request for comment. Li and Wu have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Under the U.S. Center for SafeSport code, “Retaliation against anyone for engaging in the Center’s processes is prohibited.”

“Retaliation,” the code said, “includes threatening, intimidating, harassing, coercing or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from engaging or participating in the Center’s processes when the Retaliation does not include good-faith actions lawfully pursued in response to a report of a Code violation.”

The code also allows SafeSport to place individuals facing abuse allegations on interim suspension, a protective measure pending the outcome of the investigation, according to documents. Individuals placed on interim suspension can then request a hearing within 72 hours.

The delay in U.S. Center for SafeSport issuing a ruling in the case has also caused anxiety among many former Legacy gymnasts, according to parents. Several gymnasts who allege they were abused by Li and Wu were included in the same rotation as Legacy at an Illinois high performance camp Oct. 1-3.

“My kids are really upset about this, having to face them,” Fitzgerald said. “This has been hanging over these families for two years and now these (gymnasts) are going to have to face Anna and Jiani for the entire camp?

“Either you believe (dozens) of families or you believe their lies but make a decision. So we can move on.”

The first complaints against Li and Wu were filed with USA Gymnastics in July 2019. The U.S. Center for SafeSport took jurisdiction of the case a month later.

Gymnasts and their parents allege that Li disparaged gymnasts in front of their peers on a “daily basis,” regularly called girls fat, pressured injured athletes to train or compete, and threatened to make negative comments to college coaches recruiting them if they struggled in training, were unable to train or compete because of injuries or illness, or appeared in Li’s opinion overweight, according to interviews with multiple gymnasts and parents and U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Gymnastics documents.

Wu on multiple occasions pulled young gymnasts by their hair when she was dissatisfied with their training, including at least one occasion when Wu allegedly pulled a girl by her ponytail all the way to the ground, according to interviews and multiple complaints submitted to U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Gymnastics.

“Hair was pulled and girls were constantly body-shamed,” a parent wrote in a formal complaint to SafeSport and USA Gymnastics.

Another parent in a complaint with SafeSport and USA Gymnastics said she witnessed “Hair pulling under the guise of physical coaching.”

Another complaint alleges a “child had tape placed over (her) mouth for 2 hours” by the coaches.

Once Wu pushed gymnast Riley Milbrandt while she was doing a handstand, sending her crashing into a balance beam, according to the complaint. Milbrandt was once forced to stand against the wall by herself for two hours as punishment and told she would not be coached or talked to by the coaches, the complaint said. Wu told the other gymnasts in Milbrandt’s training group they would also be forced to stand against the wall if they spoke to their teammate, the report said.

Girls were made to sit in an inflatable pool toy in the corner of the gym as punishment if Li or Wu thought they were not working hard or not making corrections, according to a complaint.

Gymnasts were forced by Li and Wu to train and compete while injured, according to multiple complaints.

“Coaches thought they were above the doctors,” one parent alleged in a complaint to SafeSport. “They told the girls that they know more than the doctors do because of the length of time they have been in the sport. They said they never needed lists from doctors, that they knew how to manage all injuries. Therapy lists were torn up and thrown in the garbage.”

SCNG reported in August 2019 that top USA Gymnastics officials have been aware of physical, verbal and emotional abuse allegations against Li and Wu since at least 2017, nearly two years earlier than the national governing body has acknowledged.

Mark Busby, then USA Gymnastics general counsel, and Toby R. Stark, then the organization’s director for Safe Sport confirmed in a series of September 2017 emails that USA Gymnastics had received allegations of “verbal, physical and emotional abuse” against Li and Wu.

The Busby and Stark emails contradicted statements by USA Gymnastics chief executive officer Li Li Leung in August 2019, denying that the organization was aware of complaints against Li and Wu prior to Li being named to USA Gymnastics’ high profile athletes council in June 2019.

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