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.

Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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