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Doctor accused of sex abuse by 2 gymnasts cleared in previous complaint

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(AP) — A doctor accused of sexual abuse by two gymnasts — including a 2000 U.S. Olympian — was investigated by Michigan State University authorities in 2014 over a another allegation of misconduct, but the school found no violation of its policy.

School spokesman Kent Cassella said Tuesday that local prosecutors did not file charges two years ago following an investigation by MSU police.

The revelation of a complaint by the Michigan State graduate comes after two female gymnasts, including a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, said they were sexually abused as teenagers by Larry Nassar, a former longtime doctor for USA Gymnastics.

Nassar is accused of sexually groping and fondling the Olympian during her elite career, according to a lawsuit filed last week in California by the athlete under the name “Jane Doe.”

The second gymnast, Rachael Denhollander of Louisville, Kentucky, told the Indianapolis Star newspaper that Nassar sexually abused her in 2000 while she underwent treatment for lower back pain at Michigan State, where Nassar is a faculty member. She said she filed a complaint last month with university police.

Michigan State temporarily reassigned Nassar, 53, from clinical and patient duties as of Aug. 30, a day after Denhollander’s complaint was made to authorities. Cassella said that was the first time the school was aware of the allegation.

Cassella said the school investigated Nassar previously, however.

“In a separate incident in 2014, MSU authorities investigated a complaint of misconduct against Larry Nassar,” Cassella said in an email. “The complaint, filed by a recent female MSU graduate at the time, involved an allegation of abuse during a medical procedure. An administrative investigation revealed no violation of MSU policy, and the local prosecutor’s office did not file charges after an investigation by MSU police.

“During the investigation, Nassar was temporarily reassigned from his clinical and patient duties.”

Nassar’s attorney, Matthew Borgula, defended the doctor in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

“MSU and local authorities conducted an investigation and found that there was no violation of law, nor of MSU policy and no lawsuit was ever filed. Dr. Nassar met with authorities at the time and completely cooperated,” Borgula said. “This claim, like the current allegations bantered about in the press, are wholly without merit. Dr. Nassar has never conducted any medical procedure at MSU without the full consent of his patient, and if the patient is a minor, without the parent’s consent.

“He has never been sued, until the recent lawsuit filed in California, and he has never been charged with a crime,” it continued. “He has been a physician for over 23 years, and part of the USA Gymnastics medical team for 29. During that time, no one has ever lodged a complaint against him that he was aware.”

USA Gymnastics released a statement Monday night indicating that it cut ties with Nassar when the organization’s President Steve Penny went to authorities immediately after learning of athlete concerns about Nassar in the summer of 2015.

When asked Tuesday by the AP if it notified Michigan State or other entities affiliated with Nassar about the concerns raised, USA Gymnastics spokesperson Leslie King referred back to the organization’s statement on Monday.

“USA Gymnastics has cooperated fully with the law enforcement agency since we first notified them of the matter, including — at their request — refraining from making further statements or taking any other action that might interfere with the agency’s investigation,” the statement read.

USA Gymnastics has not identified the organization it contacted, also at the request of the law enforcement agency.

USA Gymnastics said Tuesday night it was not contacted about Michigan State’s 2014 investigation of Nassar.

Cassella said the school didn’t consider contacting USA Gymnastics in 2014 because “the administrative investigation revealed no violation of MSU policy” and no charges were filed.

MORE: Two gymnasts allege sex abuse by doctor for USA Gymnastics

French Open: Karolina Pliskova, top player sans Slam, again exits early

Karolina Pliskova
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No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova exited yet another Grand Slam in the early stages, falling to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the second round at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Ostapenko, whose only match wins at the French Open before this week came in her title run three years ago, bounced the big-serving Czech 6-4, 6-2.

Pliskova put fewer than half of her first serves in play, while Ostapenko fired 27 winners to 19 unforced errors. Pliskova was on the ropes in her first round, too, needing three sets to get past an Egyptian qualifier.

“Maybe same level as the match before, but of course [Ostapenko] is much better player,” Pliskova said. “Not much to say about this match.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Later Thursday, top-ranked Novak Djokovic had a second straight win ceding just five games, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 over Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic undefeated in 2020 save his U.S. Open default for smacking a ball that inadvertently struck a linesperson, next gets Colombian lucky loser Daniel Elahi Galán.

Nobody else in Djokovic’s half of the draw at the start of the tournament made a French Open semifinal before.

Pliskova is the highest-ranked player of either gender (No. 4) without a Grand Slam title, yet hasn’t made it past the fourth round at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.

She’s played six Slams as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, one shy of Caroline Wozniacki‘s total before she broke through at the 2018 Australian Open and two shy of Simona Halep‘s total before she won the 2018 French Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is having a very different career.

She won the 2017 Roland Garros title, two days after turning 20, while ranked 47th. She hasn’t gotten past the third round of a major since 2018 Wimbledon, including first-round French Open exits the last two years, and is back down to No. 43 in the WTA rankings.

“It’s hard to compare with 2017. As I said, it was like three years ago, and I was much younger, and also I was fearless. Nobody knew me,” Ostapenko said. “The world doesn’t stop with winning only one Grand Slam. Of course I want to achieve more, and I want to be back in top five, top 10.”

She dropped just nine games in four sets this week.

Ostapenko gets 87th-ranked Spaniard Paula Badosa in third round. Badosa dispatched 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

MORE: Serena Williams ‘struggling to walk’

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix fields look very different this season

Nathan Chen
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Before Nathan Chen is expected to go for a historic fifth straight U.S. figure skating title in January, he will, in a first, compete against most of his top countrymen later this month.

Fields for the Grand Prix Series, figure skating’s autumn international circuit, were published Thursday. As expected, every top skater entered will compete in his or her home country, or nearest to where he or she trains, and in one of the six events.

Traditionally, skaters compete in two of the six events and are scattered among competitions in the U.S., Canada, France, Russia, China and Japan based on world rankings.

But the International Skating Union restricted travel this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skaters are limited to compete locally. And the Grand Prix Final at the conclusion of the Grand Prix Series has been postponed from its scheduled December setting in Beijing.

That means that Chen vies for a record-tying fourth straight Skate America crown in Las Vegas in three weeks against a field mostly made up of countrymen, including Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou and U.S. bronze medalist Tomoki Hiwatashi.

In all, there are eight U.S. men entered in Skate America, 11 women (including past national champions Bradie Tennell and Gracie Gold), six pairs and nine ice dance couples (including U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue), plus some skaters from other nations who train in the U.S.

Traditionally, a country has no more than three entries per discipline at a Grand Prix event.

GRAND PRIX FIELDS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Sochi Olympian Jason Brown, who trains in Toronto, is entered in Skate Canada the week after Skate America.

Two-time U.S. women’s champion Alysa Liu will not be old enough for the Grand Prix Series until the 2021-22 Olympic season.

All of the reigning Olympic champions are absent from the series.

Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan previously announced he wouldn’t compete due to virus-related travel risks. Russian Alina Zagitova extended her indefinite break from competition dating to last autumn, rather choosing to participate in a skating-themed TV series.

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada retired. The German pairs’ team of Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot last competed in the 2018 Olympic season.

Instead, the headliners include Chen, the two-time world champion undefeated since placing fifth in PyeongChang. And a deep crop of Russian teenage women, all of course entered in the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow in November.

MORE: Brian Orser reacts to Yevgenia Medvedeva’s coaching switch

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