Frank Fredericks leaves 2024 Olympic bid role, waives vote

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GENEVA (AP) — IOC member Frank Fredericks has stepped down from his role overseeing the 2024 Olympic bidding process after a $300,000 payment from a banned track official was revealed.

“Paris and Los Angeles are presenting two fantastic candidatures, and I do not wish to become a distraction,” the four-time Olympic silver medalist from Namibia said Tuesday in a statement.

Stepping aside as IOC evaluation chairman was “in the best interests” of the bidding process, the former sprinter said.

Fredericks, who won his Olympic medals in the 1990s, would have led an April 23-25 visit to Los Angeles. Paris will be evaluated by an IOC team on May 14-16.

“(I)t is essential that the important work my colleagues are doing is seen as being carried out in a truthful and fair manner,” Fredericks said, adding he will waive his right to vote in the September hosting contest.

Fredericks also will not take part in July meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, that are a key stage in the voting contest. IOC members will hear from city campaign leaders and about the evaluation visits.

Fredericks has denied wrongdoing after his integrity — and the 2016 Olympic hosting vote — was questioned by French daily Le Monde last Friday.

Fredericks previously said he contacted the IOC Ethics Commission ahead of Le Monde revealing that a company linked to him was paid $299,300 on Oct. 2, 2009, the day Rio de Janeiro won 2016 Olympic hosting rights.

The money was transferred by Papa Massata Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, a disgraced former IAAF president and former long-time IOC member.

The elder Diack is in France where state prosecutors are investigating alleged corruption in the IAAF. His son, who has been banned for life by the IAAF, is evading questioning and thought to be in his native Senegal.

Le Monde reported that Papa Massata Diack’s marketing company received $1.5 million from a Brazilian businessman days before Rio’s victory in a four-city contest. Fredericks, a senior IAAF official, has said he had a marketing contract with Papa Massata Diack’s agency, Pamodzi Sports Consulting, from 2007-11.

“I reiterate that I was never involved with any vote manipulation or for that matter any other inappropriate or illegal practice,” said Fredericks, who joined the IOC in 2004 as an athlete representative and was a member of the IOC executive board at the time of the Rio vote.

“The articles do not only target me, they target the integrity of the International Olympic Committee bidding and elections process for host cities altogether,” he said. “This is why I have been and am still actively cooperating with the IOC Ethics Commission in order for them to conduct a proper and independent investigation.”

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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