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Karolyis named in sex abuse lawsuit against ex-USA Gymnastics doctor

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The latest lawsuit accusing a former USA Gymnastics doctor of sexually abusing a longtime member of the U.S. women’s national team is the first to name renowned husband-and-wife coaches Bela and Martha Karolyi, alleging they turned a blind eye to molestations.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles, does not provide specifics about what the Karolyis were allegedly told about the abuse, just that they knew about it and did nothing to stop it.

The Karolyis did not return messages seeking comment.

The civil lawsuit, filed by the now 24-year-old former gymnast, claims Dr. Larry Nassar repeatedly sexually abused her when she was on the national team from 2006 to 2011.

Nassar’s attorney didn’t respond to messages Thursday but his lawyer has previously vehemently denied abuse allegations by two other gymnasts. Nassar hasn’t been criminally charged.

The lawsuit accuses the Karolyis of creating a toxic environment that allowed the alleged abuse to thrive at their ranch north of Houston, where gymnasts would stay in bungalows while receiving individual instruction from the national staff and medical attention from Nassar.

“Everyone left and went back to the house and left Larry Nassar alone with a bunch of little girls,” said John Manly, the attorney representing the gymnast who filed Thursday’s lawsuit.

“There are a lot of former national team members who are gutted emotionally,” he said.

The Karolyis and the current and former presidents of USA Gymnastics “had knowledge of inappropriate conduct and molestations committed by (Nassar) before and during his employment, yet chose to allow him to remain unsupervised where he sexually abused plaintiff,” according to the lawsuit.

Manly declined to discuss specifics about the allegation that the Karolyis knew of the abuse, saying it would only help their case.

The lawsuit also accuses the Karolyis of their own abusive behavior, saying they would hit gymnasts, scratch them until they bled, deprive them of food and water, belittle their physical appearance and cut them off from contact with their parents. That environment opened the door for Nassar to groom the girls by acting like an ally and sneaking them treats, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also says the current and former presidents of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny and Robert Colarossi, “oversaw a wide-ranging, calculated concealment of numerous instances, complaints and allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct.”

Penny and Colarossi ignored abuse allegations against Nassar to maintain the reputation of USA Gymnastics, the lawsuit alleges.

USA Gymnastics, also named in the lawsuit and speaking on behalf of Penny and Colarossi, denied the allegations and called the claims against Nassar troubling.

The Indiana-based governing body previously said that it cut ties with Nassar when Penny went to authorities immediately after learning of athlete concerns about Nassar in the summer of 2015.

The lawsuit echoes allegations against Nassar filed by other women in another California lawsuit last month. It says Nassar digitally penetrated the gymnast without gloves under the guise of performing what he called an “intravaginal adjustment.”

Manly, the attorney representing the gymnast, said at least 20 other women have come forward with abuse allegations against Nassar connected to his work at Michigan State University’s sports medicine clinic and are considering filing lawsuits.

The allegations date back to 1996, the same year he was hired by USA Gymnastics.

Though U.S. gymnastics became the most dominant women’s program on the planet under the Karolyis, the couple’s coaching methods have not been immune to criticism.

Dominique Moceanu, a member of the 1996 Olympic team, claimed the Karolyis were verbally, emotionally and physically abusive to her at times during her elite career, criticizing Moceanu for her weight and body type, among other things.

MORE: Michigan State fires Nassar after sexual abuse accusations

Alina Zagitova hands Yevgenia Medvedeva first loss in 2 years

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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva is no longer the clear favorite in the Winter Olympics’ marquee event.

The two-time world champion lost for the first time in more than two years, upset by training partner Alina Zagitova at the European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow.

Italian Carolina Kostner earned bronze.

Zagitova, the 15-year-old world junior champion, set personal bests in the short program and free skate and totaled 238.24 points. She beat Medvedeva by 5.38 points.

Medvedeva, in her first competition since November due to a broken foot, fully rotated all of her jumps Saturday, but Zagitova was cleaner. She also stumbled out of a double Axel in her short program.

“I did not feel the injury,” Medvedeva said after the short program, according to the International Skating Union. “Everything has healed.”

Full results are here. NBCSN will air coverage Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

Zagitova was born three months after the Salt Lake City Olympics and without a name for her first year. Her parents eventually decided on Alina after watching Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion Alina Kabayeva on TV.

She had been working to this point in her first senior international season. She swept her two fall Grand Prix starts, then won the Grand Prix Final in December, all without Medvedeva in the field.

On Saturday, she landed all of her jumps (including seven triples) in the second half of her program for 10 percent bonuses. It’s the type of technical content layout ambitious enough to challenge Medvedeva.

“I think that Zhenia [Medvedeva] is her role model in life, in behavior, in her way to work,” shared coach Eteri Tutberidze said last year, according to Goldenskate.com. “Alina absolutely tries to copy her way to work, the amount of work and she doesn’t stop. This helps. I can sometimes show Zhenia and say, ‘Look how Alina is working,’ and I tell Alina, ‘Look how Zhenia is working.’”

Medvedeva, whose last defeat was in November 2015, also won both of her Grand Prix starts, posting the world’s highest scores this season, while dealing with foot pain.

She underwent an MRI that revealed a crack, then withdrew from the Grand Prix Final and the Russian Championships in December. She is still expected to be on the Olympic Athlete from Russia team in PyeongChang.

Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who made her Europeans debut in 2003, fell on her opening triple Lutz and landed just three triple jumps Saturday.

She hung on to win a medal at her 11th straight European Championships.

Russian Maria Sotskova, the Grand Prix Final silver medalist, fell on her last triple jump, a Lutz, among other landing troubles. She placed fourth.

Those four skaters are the Olympic medal contenders along with Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman and Japanese Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto.

U.S. champion Bradie Tennell ranks 14th in the world this season.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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MORE: NBC Olympics PyeongChang preview series on Netflix

Julia Marino, Hailey Langland qualify for Olympics; U.S. sweeps possible

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The addition of snowboard big air to the Olympics next month means Jamie AndersonJulia Marino and Hailey Langland have two chances for a U.S. podium sweep in PyeongChang.

Marino and Langland qualified for the U.S. big air and slopestyle team Saturday, joining the already qualified Anderson, who won slopestyle’s debut in Sochi.

Anderson, Marino and Langland swept the podium in that order at the last Olympic qualifier in slopestyle in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

They also made up three of the top four riders at the 2017 X Games big air and slopestyle.

The U.S. has never swept the Winter Olympic medals in a women’s event but could do so in big air, slopestyle and even snowboard halfpipe in PyeongChang.

MORE: U.S. Olympic roster

While Anderson is the veteran, an X Games medalist 11 of the last 12 years, Marino and Langland represent the new wave of U.S. big air and slopestyle riders.

Marino, a 20-year-old from Connecticut who trains in Quebec, earned slopestyle and big air medals at X Games Aspen and Oslo last year in her debuts at those events.

They included slopestyle gold in Aspen over Anderson.

Langland, a 17-year-old from Southern California who plays the ukulele, guitar and piano, won the first X Games women’s big air title last year and took bronze in slopestyle in 2016.

Born in 2000, she is younger than any previous female Olympic snowboarding medalist.

“She reminds me of a younger me,” Anderson said, according to NBC Olympic Research.

The U.S. could add a fourth woman to the big air/slopestyle team, likely either Jessika Jenson or Ty Walker, a pair of 2014 Olympians in slopestyle.

The U.S. men are not as strong internationally in big air and slopestyle, where the Olympic favorites hail from Canada and Norway.

Kyle Mack won the last qualifier Saturday — without the top international riders in the field — to clinch the third and last automatic spot on the men’s big air/slopestyle team.

Chris Corning and Red Gerard previously qualified for PyeongChang. A fourth rider can be added via discretionary selection.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Big Air/Slopestyle 
(through five of five events)
Three riders auto qualify per gender; one possible discretionary spot
1. Chris Corning — 2,000* QUALIFIED
1. Red Gerard — 2,000* QUALIFIED
3. Kyle Mack — 1,800* QUALIFIED

4. Chandler Hunt — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
5. Ryan Stassel — 1,400 (2nd and 3rd)

1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000* QUALIFIED
2. Julia Marino — 1,800* QUALIFIED
3. Hailey Langland — 1,600* QUALIFIED
4. Jessika Jenson — 1,600 (1st and 3rd)
5. Ty Walker — 1,300 (2nd and 4th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result against entire field.

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