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USOC CEO apologizes, says he was unaware of extent of sexual abuse

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The U.S. Olympic Committee CEO said in a letter he was not aware of the full scope of the Larry Nassar sex-abuse allegations before law enforcement got involved, and that he had no knowledge of a settlement between USA Gymnastics and 2012 Olympic champion McKayla Maroney in a case involving the now-imprisoned former team doctor.

CEO Scott Blackmun sent the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, on Thursday, the day after Maroney filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the nondisclosure clauses in the settlement.

The USOC is named as a defendant, and the lawsuit said the federation had long promoted a culture that concealed known and suspected sex abusers.

In the letter, Blackmun wrote, “I am so sorry that the Olympic family failed these athletes,” and that while the USOC found out too late, it has taken steps to prevent future abuse by creating the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which investigates sex-abuse allegations in Olympic sports.

“And I want to be crystal clear on the topic of transparency,” Blackmun wrote. “During my tenure as CEO, which began in 2010, we have never been, and will not be, party to any effort to conceal or keep confidential allegations or instances of sexual abuse.”

Maroney’s lawyer, John Manly, called the letter “repugnant.”

“If you’re the USOC, and you’re really committed to this, what you should do is get on the phone to the USA [Gymnastics] board and say you’re out or we’re decertifying you,” Manly said.

He said Maroney does not seek damages in the lawsuit, but only to be released from the nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses in the settlement.

Maroney reached the settlement with USA Gymnastics in December 2016.

In October 2017, she publicly revealed the extent of the abuse she suffered via Twitter, saying Nassar began abusing her when she was 13 and attending national team training camp.

Nassar 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.

Though Maroney was not part of that case, she and her mother wrote letters to the court detailing Nassar’s abuse and how it impacted the gymnast.

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MORE: Maroney: Nassar should spend life in prison

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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Greg Van Avermaet triples Tour de France lead in first mountain stage

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Belgian Greg Van Avermaet more than tripled his Tour de France overall lead in the first day in the mountains on Tuesday, but Wednesday may be his last day in the yellow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a stage in this year’s Tour, claiming the 10th stage that included three first-category climbs and a beyond-category climb but ended with a descent and the contenders together in the peloton.

Van Avermaet finished fourth, 1:44 behind Alaphilippe. More importantly, Van Avermaet crossed the Grand-Bornand finish line 1:39 ahead of a group that included most of the main contenders to top the podium in Paris on July 29.

The Olympic road race champion increased his overall lead from 43 seconds to 2:22.

Van Avermaet has worn the maillot jaune for a week straight, but he is not a climber, and the biggest test of the Tour thus far is imminent.

“No disrespect, but he’s not going to win the Tour,” said Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is in second place.

The Tour continues with stage 11, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Wednesday (full broadcast schedule here). The 67-mile stage starts in the 1992 Winter Olympic host Albertville and includes two beyond-category climbs. It concludes with a category-one summit at La Rosière.

“Tomorrow’s a climber’s day,” Van Avermaet said. “It will be super hard to keep [the yellow jersey]. … Tomorrow it will be over.”

Chris Froome, eyeing a record-tying fifth Tour de France title, is best placed of the pre-Tour favorites.

Froome is in sixth place and 3:21 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is followed by Spaniard Mikel Landa in the same time and 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali another six seconds back.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, the 2017 Tour runner-up, finished 2:36 behind the group with Froome, Landa and Nibali.

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