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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

Rafael Nadal can tie Roger Federer’s Slam record with 13th French Open

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For all of the many qualities contributing to Rafael Nadal’s unprecedented superiority at the French Open — the bullwhip of a high-bouncing lefty forehand, the reflex returns, the cover-every-corner athleticism, the endless energy and grit — there’s one element that stands above all the rest.

According to the opponent Nadal beat in the last two finals in Paris, anyway.

“You go into the match knowing that even your best tennis, even if you play it over three, four hours, might not be enough. I mean, if you do it, you maybe have a little chance, but you have to go to your limit on every single rally, every single point,” Dominic Thiem, who won the U.S. Open less than two weeks ago, told The Associated Press.

“That makes it not easy to go into the match,” Thiem said. “And that’s the mental part, I guess.”

When main-draw competition begins Sunday at Roland Garros, Thiem and every other player in the men’s bracket will be pursuing Nadal as the 34-year-old from Spain pursues history.

If Nadal manages to claim a 13th French Open championship — extending his own record for the most singles trophies won by anyone at any major tennis tournament — he would, more significantly, also collect his 20th Grand Slam title overall, tying Roger Federer’s record for a man.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Nadal’s tally elsewhere: four U.S. Opens, two Wimbledons, one Australian Open.

He spoke Friday in Paris about what “probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros” — a lack of matches in 2020; a new brand of tennis balls (“super slow, heavy”); cooler weather and plenty of rain in the forecast.

“But you know what?” Nadal said. “I am here to fight and to play with the highest intensity possible.”

Asked recently about the possibility of catching the 39-year-old Federer, out for the rest of the season after a pair of operations on his right knee, Nadal expressed a sentiment he’s uttered before.

Climbing the Grand Slam list, Nadal said, is “not an obsession at all.”

“I know that you put a lot of attention on all of this,” he replied when the topic was raised last week at the Italian Open, Nadal’s first tournament since February because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Of course I would love to finish my career with 25, but (that’s) something that probably will not happen. I’m going to keep fighting to produce chances, and then when I finish my career, let’s see, no?” he said. “I just want to keep enjoying tennis. And that’s it. If I am playing well, I know I normally have my chances. If not, going to be impossible. That’s it.”

There is, of course, another great of the game playing during this era and, like Nadal, gaining on Federer.

That would be No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, who had won five of seven major titles to raise his total to 17 before being disqualified at the U.S. Open for accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball while walking to a changeover.

In this oddest of years, the Grand Slam season will drawing to a close in France; the clay-court major was postponed from May until now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Roland Garros is the last Slam, the last opportunity of this season. So we all know who the main favorite is there: Obviously, it’s Nadal. And everything that he has achieved there, losing maybe a couple matches in his entire career on that court … is probably the most impressive record that anybody has on any court,” Djokovic said. “So, yeah, of course you would put him right there in front as a favorite to win it.”

For the record: Nadal has won 93 of 95 matches in the French Open and his last 21 in a row.

So what makes him so dominant there?

“He’s an unbelievably great tennis player. Probably on clay, a little bit better than on the other surfaces,” Thiem said. “He’s left-handed, which makes it very uncomfortable. And then his forehand, the topspin on the clay, it’s cruel to play.”

Thiem takes notes and hopes to emulate aspects of Nadal’s game.

So do others.

In Rome, for example, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep and one of her coaches, Artemon Apostu-Efremov, caught one of Nadal’s training sessions.

“We were watching the way he hits the ball, the acceleration, the energy he has on the court and the way he practices 100%. It’s always an inspiration,” Apostu-Efremov said.

“This dedication on the court and focus on court,” he said, “it’s something that, for sure, could be transferred to Simona.”

Nadal wound up losing his third match in Italy, which is neither ideal form nor the sort of prep work he is accustomed to ahead of Roland Garros.

Still, Nadal at the French Open is unlike anyone else, anywhere else.

“Regardless of how he feels, I’m sure he’ll find a way,” said Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 2019 Australian Open semifinalist seeded No. 5 in Paris. “He always finds a way, every single year. Clay is his surface. I’m sure he’s going to do well.”

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Skate America will not have fans

Skate America
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Skate America, the top annual international figure skating competition held in the U.S., will not have spectators in Las Vegas from Oct. 23-25.

U.S. Figure Skating said the restriction was “due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in strict accordance with the Nevada Gaming Control Board guidelines.”

Skate America is the first top-level event of the season, kicking off the six-stop Grand Prix Series leading up to December’s Grand Prix Final, which is scheduled this season for Beijing.

The series has already been modified to restrict fields to skaters from the host country or to the event closest to their training location.

Grand Prix fields have not been announced, though two-time world champion Nathan Chen said last month he hoped to go for a fourth straight Skate America title.

Chen trains in California. Most, if not all, top U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada, which means they will compete in Skate America or Skate Canada if they participate in the Grand Prix Series at all.

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

Skaters are limited to one Grand Prix start this season. In past seasons, they’ve typically competed twice.

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