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McKayla Maroney says settlement covered up sex abuse

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney was forced to sign a confidential settlement with the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts to keep allegations that she was sexually abused by team doctor Larry Nassar a secret, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Maroney, who won a team gold and an individual silver on vault as part of the “Fierce Five” U.S. women’s team at the 2012 Olympics in London, said Nassar’s abuse started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

After suffering sexual abuse and “years of psychological trauma,” Maroney reached a settlement with USA Gymnastics in December 2016, but the terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed in court papers.

Her lawsuit seeks to invalidate parts of the settlement, arguing it violated California law and that USA Gymnastics “had a plan to keep the sexual abuse of Nassar quiet.”

Maroney, who is now 22 years old, said in a Twitter post in October that the abuse started when she was 13 and attending a U.S. national team training camp in Houston.

Nassar told her at the time that she was receiving “medically necessary treatment he had been performing on patients for over 30 years,” she said at the time.

Her attorney, John Manly, said she had been abused between 50 and 100 times by Nassar, including at the Olympics and during the world championships.

She has described Nassar giving her a sleeping pill while the team traveled to Japan for the 2011 world championships.

Maroney says Nassar later visited her in her hotel room after the team arrived in Tokyo, where he molested her yet again.

“First and foremost, she wants this never to happen to another little girl,” Manly said in an interview Wednesday.

The settlement included nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses and Maroney or her parents could be sued for more than $100,000 for violating the agreement.

The suit seeks to invalidate those provisions under a California law which prohibits settlements in civil cases that could result in criminal sex offense charges.

“It’s despicable and it is wrong,” Manly said of the settlement agreement.

Nassar has admitted to sexually assaulting female gymnasts, possessing child pornography and molesting girls who sought treatment.

He was sentenced earlier this month to serve 60 years in federal prison for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.

Maroney’s lawsuit also names the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University, where Nassar had worked for decades.

The court complaint alleges the university had received complaints from two female athletes who accused the doctor of inappropriately touching them in the late 1990s and that the USOC has had “a culture and atmosphere that conceals known and suspected sexual abusers.”

USA Gymnastics said the settlement was legal under California law and that Maroney’s attorney asked for the confidential mediation process.

The sanctioning body said the settlement included a “mutual non-disclosure clause and a mutual non-disparagement clause.”

USA Gymnastics said it first learned about the allegations against Nassar in 2015 and reported him to the FBI.

Michigan State University, which was also named in Maroney’s lawsuit, said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones said it was first made aware of the allegations involving a USA Gymnastics physician in the summer of 2015. Jones said USA Gymnastics told them team officials were contacting law enforcement.

Jones said the USOC is hopeful new measures will “help ensure that tragedies like this will never happen again.”

U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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