USA Gymnastics
Getty Images

USA Gymnastics leaders resign as more victims speak

2 Comments

The chairman, vice chairman and treasurer of USA Gymnastics resigned Monday, heeding calls from the U.S. Olympic Committee and angered gymnasts who say the organization did nothing to protect them after they were abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Paul Parilla, Jay Binder and Bitsy Kelley announced they were stepping down as testimony in Nassar’s sentencing hearing in Michigan moved into its second week.

A number of Olympians have been among those testifying. Many have also sued the USOC and USA Gymnastics and called for the sports leaders to leave their jobs.

USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was forced out last year.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that USOC CEO Scott Blackmun met with Parilla earlier this month and asked for his resignation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue publicly.

In a statement, Blackmun said the USOC has been discussing changes with leaders at USA Gymnastics since October.

“Those discussions accelerated over the holidays and today you have seen three board resignations,” Blackmun said. “New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong. USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors.”

The new CEO, Kerry Perry, said USA Gymnastics supported the resignations.

“We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” she said.

Last week, USA Gymnastics said it would no longer hold training camps at the Karolyi ranch in Texas, where a number of gymnasts said Nassar abused them.

That announcement only came after Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles complained that USA Gymnastics hadn’t moved to find a different training locale.

Another member of the 2016 team, Aly Raisman, gave some of the most compelling testimony last week.

“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change,” she said. “But how are we to believe in change when these organizations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem?”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Watch, read Aly Raisman’s full testimony

Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

MORE: Katie Ledecky on her new suit, challenges for Tokyo 2020

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Finland ski jumping legend retires for third time