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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MORE: Olympic medalist claims sex abuse by ex-USA Gymnastics doctor

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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