Nastia Liukin ‘completely shocked’ by allegations against ex-USA Gymnastics doctor

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NBC Olympics analyst Nastia Liukin said Dr. Larry Nassar treated her injuries throughout her national-team career, and every encounter with him was professional.

Liukin, speaking at the AT&T American Cup on Saturday, said she was “completely shocked” about sexual-assault allegations against Nassar, a USA Gymnastics team doctor from 1996 to 2015.

Liukin was a senior national-team member from 2005-09 and again in 2012.

“I’m completely shocked when I heard all the news,” Liukin said on NBC. “Every encounter that I had with him was professional. My whole experience on the national team with USA Gymnastics was nothing but positive.”

Liukin also said she never heard of other gymnasts being abused by him during her career.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to all the gymnasts and the parents that are affected and involved in all of this,” said Liukin, whose father, Valeri Liukin, is the current U.S. women’s national-team coordinator and was an elite developmental coordinator from 2013 to 2016. “I encourage everybody in any sport really if they feel something is not right to speak up.”

In the last seven months, more than 80 people have claimed to be victims of sexual assault by Nassar, according to the Michigan State University Police Department. Nassar also formerly worked with Michigan State’s gymnastics team.

Nassar has been charged with 25 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and is currently being held in federal custody on child pornography charges.

He’s also being sued by dozens of women and girls, including 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher, who described the assaults on “60 Minutes” Sunday.

“This guy is disgusting. This guy is despicable,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told reporters last month. “He is a monster.”

USA Gymnastics fired Nassar two years ago after going to federal authorities following an investigation into possible abuse by Nassar, leading the FBI to conduct its own investigation of the doctor.

Michigan State fired him last September after he violated restrictions that were put in place in 2014 following a complaint.

He has denied abuse, and, in an email last fall to his Michigan State bosses, said, “I will overcome this.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

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Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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