63: Doctor Larry Nassar


the gymnastics doctor, larry nassar

USA Gymnastics Team Physician, Dr. Larry Nassar


This Week's Interview

Want to know who see’s everything at The Ranch? Who runs the room where Kyla Ross said cameras should follow the team if they really want to see where the action is at camp. Who we would pick if we were going to pick a doctor to take care of our kids while they traveled around the world flipping at speeds that would make an astronaut jealous? It’s USA Gymnastics Team Physician, Larry Nassar, A.T.C.  He’s a professor, a certified athletic trainer, an osteopath and one of the most caring human beings you could ever hope to meet. A blunt, honest, experienced professional who tells it like it is. He can do that because he’s so compassionate. This interview originally aired on December 6, 2013.

We discuss:

  • What Marta calls him about the most. (This will make you happy gymternet)
  • What it was like to be part of the 2000 Olympic “hell”
  • Dealing with parents who will not accept responsibility for their child’s health
  • The one change he would make in order to prevent injuries
  • What injustice the International Olympic Committee commits against gymnasts
  • Why The Ranch is no longer- as the fans formerly called it- “Death Camp”
  • Changing the camp culture to prevent athletes and coaches from hiding injuries
  • Gym Myth Busters injury edition: ACLs, Achilles, & Shawn Johnson’s knee injury

Guest Links

Related Episodes

Kristin Maloney interview
Elise Ray interview
Simone Biles interview
Kyla Ross interview

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  1. Alyssia says

    This was actually the first interview I didn’t skip parts of! It was great, really interesting.
    And I disliked compulsories back in the day when I wasn’t into gymnastics the way I am now, but now I can totally understand you, Jess, that you can really see the differences in how much of the basics they have down. Also totally loving that he says ballet is so important. It’s really what US gymnastics misses. If they could get that down, it would add so much to the entire sport. I mean we all know the Russians are ballet trained and you can really see that. I would love to see that more.

  2. Alyssia says

    Ugh I had a comment ready to post and then it didn’t post???
    Anyway I was saying that I LOVED!!! this interview. I tend to skip parts at least but I listened to this one the whole way through.
    Also I’m loving the idea of compulsories back. I didn’t care for it back in the day but I wasn’t into the sport as much as I am now. I totally agree that you can really see the differences in how gymnasts have the basics under their belts. Would love to see it back.
    And I’m also really for the idea of ballet training. We all know the Russians do it and you can really see it, the way they present themselves and carry their routines (not to mention all of them have great toe point)… The American team would definitely get so much better in every respect and they’re already hard to beat.

  3. Lauren H says

    OMG, I LOVE Dr. Larry Nassar! I loved compulsories, and miss them so much, and thought it was amazing that THAT would be his one universal gym change. Brilliant! And never put two an two together with the injury rate increasing once compulsories were dropped. So true, insane, and sad. Great interview!

  4. April says

    I would be interested to know about his thoughts on the alternative medicine stuff we’ve seen of late. For example, the pictures of the girls on the plane with people doing cupping on them. Also, some of the gymnasts using acupuncture.

  5. gymnasthole says

    I’m going to start a petition to have Dr. Larry Nassar on Gymcastic every week!!! He should also take Tim Dagget’s commentators place! He should also take Tim Gunn’s place as Project Runway mentor! He should also take Abby Lee Miller’s place in dance moms! He should also take Rudolph’s place on Santa’s sleigh! What I’m saying is, he should take EVERYONE’S PLACE! :)

    And of course the nosy neighbor in me is dying to know the gymnast that wrote that deceitful letter and almost lost him his job. Hmmm… After a little process of elimination, I’m sure the gymternet will figure it out…

    • flipper32 says

      I am very interested to find out what gymnast it was as well… I am sure the gymternet will figure it out eventually through elimination and the gymternet are a very persistent…

      • gymnasthole says

        If that is true, I was afraid of that. I know she switched from the Rybacki’s to Liukin around that time frame. Hmmm interesting. I still like Vanessa though. While I don’t think Steve’s coaching style was a good fit for her, I think Bela’s would have been even worse.

        • Nick Mann says

          I believe a hint is given, as Atler is mentioned at the beginning and not in the actual interview (unless I’m mistaken.)

          I do know that she wanted to train with Bela but his new position with USA Gymnastics prevented that.

          As for the alternates, I thought they they were not ranked…so even though Tasha was added later, she was still on the same level as Beckerman.
          Though we can be for certain how Alyssanwas performing at that in Sydney, most signs say that Tasha was 95% the better athlete for the job.
          Also, while Mary Lee and Morgan might have left, footage was shown of Alyssa in the stands.

          • gymnasthole says

            I think I have to listen to this interview again because I think I missed the Atler hint. This interview was a lot to digest in one gulp lol.

            You’re right about that. I didn’t think they were in any particular order either. I thought they would be added to the team to fill whatever void left from the replaced athlete and Tasha was hitting in Sydney, so they went with her and she ended up being one of the more solid members of the team from what I recall.

  6. Gymfan10 says

    This interview was FANTASTIC! Dr. Nassar’s insight into USAG history is so fascinating. I really respect him for the work he does with the gymnasts. You could tell he truly cares about them being as successful as they can be. I found his comments about Morgan White to be so heartbreaking. I can now see why the US has stuck with injured athletes at the Olympics (Chellsie Memmel came to my mind). Thank you for your podcast! I look forward to listening to it every week. It is a great way for us “gymnerds” to keep on top of everything that is going on in the world of gymnastics.

  7. says

    I love love LOVE these GymCastic Interviews! Great questions…fascinating answers. Getting a chance to hear from people I’ve always wanted to, such as so many gymnasts, Tim Daggett, and now Dr. Larry Nassar. I was trying to tell my husband how all the athletes walk under the picture of the 2000 team and the “hell” they went through and couldn’t stop tearing up. It’s SO refreshing to read everyone’s comments and see that there are many fans like myself who have such a LOVE for the sport. Thank you, GymCastic! Please keep the interviews coming!

  8. Clairey says

    Totally agree regarding compulsories if it would reduce the injury attrition and make gym more attractive to spectators (read artistic!) I note the words that appeared in this interview – parents, child, mental, physical, abusive, schooling, puberty etc – clear reminder that most of the development of the athletes is in childhood (ie under 16). It seems that particularly in women’s gymnastics there is still a tendency, because there is still a opportunity to take advantage of high strength to body weight ratio of the younger girls, for gymnasts to be “paced” to peak age 15/16 ie as soon as they can enter senior competition. Because they are also encouraged by the code to throw big skills and get away with much on the execution and artistry side we have the perfect storm for loads of ACL damage etc etc. No fun watching child athletes taking career ending (and possibly life changing) risks on the competition floor when firstly this is the thin end of the wedge of what they do in the gym and when realistically gymnastics has long ceased being something they do just for the sheer fun of it! Horrid that the result of intense training for years just ends with an injury and it’s possible consequences mental and physical.

  9. Clairey says

    Curtailed my waffle above to save everyone from it – but I’d love to hear Gymcastic exploring the compulsories idea further… It could be purely indulgent fantasising but we love that on the webcast!! I’d be wanting a recap on why they disappeared in the first place, the impact this has had and in light of changes have occurred since ie the scoring. And then most importantly of all how they could be reintroduced without unwanted effects such as excluding gymnasts who specialise on one or two events and don’t even train the others because of injuries, disadvantaging older gymnasts or being the “boring” half of the competition we never got to see anyway.

  10. idkmybffaliya says

    He talks about protecting them from mental injuries – saying that they will almost always heal from physical injuries but the mental ones leave lasting scars (or something to that effect, i’m paraphrasing.) So I wonder what his personal opinion would be on the decision to pull Brenna from competition at worlds this year? One could argue that would leave a mental injury. Watch her interview on gymnastike shortly after she was named “traveling alternate.” Perhaps he wouldn’t be willing to make a personal statement / opinion on that decision publicly since he is still in such a huge role for Team USA WAG. Just a thought/curiosity. :)

    Also if there is such an huge decision that they really will not replace athletes at the Olympic Games since the USOC has such a ridiculous policy towards the gymnasts, why force / require the US Athletes to fly and train in Birmingham England? To use the words of Jessica O’Bierne “Anna Li gave her neck for her country” … is that necessary to have them training so hard that they become injured like that? Or Finnegan’s elbow issue that kept her out of competition completely in 2013?


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