I am really, really flabbergasted by this situation. It really goes beyond a disgusting act to link to the (fake) photos. Gymnastike's site is utilised by a young audience who should never in any way be exposed to this content or indeed 4chan itself, the dregs of the internet, on a site designed to showcase routines and (stolen) news stories about their favourite gymnasts.
It's an incomprehensibly terrible decision. This 18-year-old gymnast who they excitedly hype over when she is competing and lament when she is not, is reduced to porn clickbait? And not only that, but their sole reaction to the explosion of animosity towards them as a result of the article has been to a) remove the link, b) remove the tweet linking to the article but keeping the article up AND updating it and c) defensively respond that they are essentially being brave by reporting on 'uncomfortable subjects'.
This is not brave. This is the lowest of the low. They should be utterly ignoring this thrashy gossip. This is not gymnastics news. McKayla Maroney's photos, doctored or not, leaked or not, are not news. They are not relevant in any way and nor is her sexuality.
I am delighted that USAG have responded overwhelmingly against gymnastike's TMZ-esque article. It will be extremely interesting to see what repurcussions there are. If gymnastike was still a self-starter I'd expect it to die. But of course, it's owned by big money now. Many have seen it degrade from a huge and wonderful source that revolutionised the gymternet and kicked others into gear like USAG themselves, to a money-grabbing entity with extremely poor reporting, to essentially sitting on Lauren Hopkins utterly fantastic website pressing refresh and copy-pasting her work. But I never expected anything like this. If anything, I imagined they could meet a huge pitfall if the aforementioned website owner took action against them.
You can do your bit to support ethical reporting, as Bekah and others have been detailing. Unfollow, unsubscribe, don't click and fund them via ad revenue for a site that then turns around and produces articles like this. The fact that there hasn't even been an apology is utterly, utterly galling. If they have their media access revoked it would be completely fitting and well deserved.
McKayla is an extremely accomplished gymnast who has been through a lot. She has already responded admirably to this, as expected. I look forward to seeing her rise above this and return triumphant to the competition floor, where she belongs. A world away from seedy stories.