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USA Hockey, players optimistic about worlds after meeting

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USA Hockey and the women’s national team say their marathon meeting Monday was productive, and they hope to have an agreement this week that will end their ongoing wage dispute and avoid a boycott of the upcoming world championship.

The sides met for more than 10 hours Monday in Philadelphia and will continue discussions later this week. Players announced last week they’d boycott the upcoming world championship in Plymouth, Mich., unless significant progress was made toward a labor agreement.

USA Hockey and players released statements Monday night saying they hoped a deal would be reached in time for the tournament, which begins March 31.

Players said they were hopeful to get an agreement in time to have a training camp and prepare to defend their world championship gold medal on home ice.

“We feel like we made progress today,” star forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said by phone. “They were productive, and we are hopeful that we can come to a timely agreement that would get us to Plymouth in time to prepare as a team so that we could compete in worlds.”

Lamoureux-Davidson, twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Kacey Bellamy and Kendall Coyne were among the players who took part in the meeting on the players’ side. President Jim Smith, executive director Dave Ogrean, treasurer Donna Guariglia and director of women’s hockey Reagan Carey were among those representing USA Hockey.

In its statement, USA Hockey said its goal remains to have the team it selected for the world championship still represent the U.S. later this month.

Players said negotiations with USA Hockey had been ongoing for 14 months over fair wages and equitable support. The meeting Monday, which Lamoureux-Davidson said lasted from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., was positive in that the sides were in the same room talking on the verge of training camp, which was scheduled to begin Wednesday.

“We’re hopeful, I guess,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “This morning (we thought), ‘Wait and see how this goes,’ and after today we’re all hopeful that we can make something work with USA Hockey. We’re hopeful, I think, on both sides.”

Players are pushing to be paid outside the six-month Olympic period, saying USA Hockey pays them nothing for the other 3 ½ years.

USA Hockey said it is not in the business of employing athletes and put out a list of players’ financial demands that players referred to as “patently false.”

Despite trading barbs last week, the sides agreed to meet in downtown Philadelphia the morning after the National Women’s Hockey League final in Boston, which several players took part in. Their lengthy meeting didn’t produce an agreement, but at least the agreement that talks would continue.

“It’s better than walking out saying, ‘This isn’t going to happen,'” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “But we’re hopeful, so that’s a step in the right direction, for sure.”

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USA Gymnastics closes Karolyi Ranch

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USA Gymnastics said it will no longer use the Karolyi Ranch in Texas as its training center, where athletes said Larry Nassar sexually abused gymnasts.

“USA Gymnastics has terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas,” USA Gymnastics CEO and president Kerry Perry said in a press release Thursday. “It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.

“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December. Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

“We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts.”

MORE: Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

World champions Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols said that Nassar sexually abused gymnasts at the ranch.

“When I was 15 I started to have back problems while at a National Team Camp at the Karolyi Ranch,” Nichols wrote in a victim impact statement read at one of Nassar’s sentencing hearings on Wednesday and published last week. “This is when the changes in his medical treatments occurred.

“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain.

“He did this ‘treatment’ on me, on numerous occasions.”

Raisman, a three-time Olympic champion, urged USA Gymnastics to close the ranch in a Tuesday interview on ESPN.

“I hope USA Gymnastics listens because they haven’t listened to us so far,” she said. “I hope they listen, and I hope they don’t make any of the girls go back to the ranch. No one should have to go back there after, you know, so many of us were abused there.”

Simone Biles did not specifically name the Karolyi Ranch in her Monday statement, but Raisman said Tuesday that Biles was referring to that site.

“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing at Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” was posted on Biles’ social media.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian, said Nassar was alone with her in her bed at the ranch.

“There was no one else sent with him,” she said on CBS last year. “The treatment was in the bed, in my bed that I slept on at the ranch.”

USA Gymnastics said in July 2016 that it reached an agreement with former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi to purchase the training facility the couple owned.

The national governing body backed out of the purchase in May “for a variety of reasons” but continued under its current lease agreement while exploring alternative locations for camps. It held national team camps there in September and November.

The Karolyis established the ranch in 1983 after defecting from Romania. It had been a national team training center since 2001.

Larry Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A statement from McKayla Maroney read Thursday repeated that sexual assault by Larry Nassar “left scars” in her mind that may never fade as a judge heard a third day of testimony from victims.

Nassar could be sentenced Friday in Lansing. Since Tuesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has been listening to dozens of young women who were molested after seeking his help for injuries.

Aquilina started the hearing Thursday by saying Nassar had written a letter fearing that his mental health wasn’t strong enough to sit and listen to a parade of victims. He called the hearing “a media circus.”

The judge dismissed it as “mumbo jumbo.”

“Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” Aquilina said.

Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls as a doctor for Michigan State University and at his home.

He also was a team doctor at USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” Maroney said in a statement read by a prosecutor (Maroney’s statement was previously posted in the fall). “He left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

USA Gymnastics in 2016 reached a financial settlement with Maroney that barred her from making disparaging remarks. But the organization this week said it would not seek any money for her “brave statements.”

A 2000 Olympian, Jamie Dantzscher, looked at Nassar and said, “How dare you ask any of us for forgiveness.”

“Your days of manipulation are over,” she said. “We have a voice. We have the power now.”

Nassar wasn’t the only target. Victims also criticized Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon attended part of the session Wednesday. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor.

“Guess what? You’re a coward, too,” current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.

The judge has been praising each speaker and criticizing Nassar.

It’s “about their control over other human beings and feeling like God and they can do anything,” Aquilina said of sex offenders.

On Jan. 31, Nassar will get another sentence for sexual assaults at a Lansing-area gymnastics club in a different county.