Aly Raisman files suit against USOC, USA Gymnastics

AP
2 Comments

Aly Raisman spent months urging the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics to get serious about taking a long, hard look into how Larry Nassar‘s abusive conduct was allowed to run unchecked for so long.

Frustrated by what she considers a lack of progress, the six-time Olympic medalist hopes she can get some answers in court.

Raisman filed a lawsuit against both organizations, claiming they “knew or should have known” about abusive patterns Nassar, a disgraced former national team doctor now in prison for sexually abusing young athletes.

Raisman filed the lawsuit in California on Wednesday.

The filing alleges negligence by the USOC and USA Gymnastics for failing to make sure appropriate protocols were followed in regards to monitoring Nassar.

Nassar, who is named as a co-defendant in the lawsuit, is serving decades in prison for molesting some of the sport’s top athletes and others as well as child pornography crimes.

The 23-year-old Raisman, captain for both 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic champion gymnastics teams, says she was abused by Nassar in multiple locations beginning in 2010, including at the U.S. national team training facility at the Karolyi Ranch training center in Texas and the London Games.

Raisman said she initially felt she was receiving medically necessary treatment by Nassar before realizing it was abuse. She battled shame, guilt and depression in the aftermath, Raisman said.

Nassar spent nearly three decades at USA Gymnastics before being fired in 2015 after complaints about his behavior. He continued to work at Michigan State University through fall 2016 before being hit with federal charges.

Raisman said the USOC and USA Gymnastics allowed Nassar to continue abusing athletes by not telling the university about the conduct that led them to fire him.

USA Gymnastics and the USOC broke their stated mandates to protect children in their programs by not revealing Nassar’s past misconduct to athletes and their parents or guardians, the lawsuit said.

Raisman joined a list of more than 100 civil actions filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics. Olympic teammate McKayla Maroney named the USOC as a co-defendant in a lawsuit she filed last December.

USA Gymnastics and the USOC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Raisman, who has become a vocal critic of both organizations after initially revealing the abuse in her autobiography released last fall, did not plan to go to court but says she felt compelled to press forward because she believes USA Gymnastics and the USOC are not making a sincere effort to “properly address the problem.”

“I refuse to wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing,” Raisman said in a statement. “It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed.”

The USOC is conducting an independent review of when former CEO Scott Blackmun and others learned the details about abuse cases at USA Gymnastics and whether they responded appropriately.

Blackmun stepped down earlier this week to deal with prostate cancer, though Raisman, several high-profile gymnasts and two U.S. Senators called for his ouster for weeks.

USA Gymnastics underwent a massive overhaul in the last year.

Former president Steve Penny, named as a co-defendant in Raisman’s lawsuit, resigned last March. Longtime chairman of the board Paul Parilla, another co-defendant in the suit, and the rest of the board stepped down in January under heavy pressure from the USOC. USA Gymnastics also ended its relationship with the Karolyi Ranch in January and is currently searching for a new training center.

Raisman doesn’t believe either organization is going far enough fast enough for future generations of athletes.

“It has become painfully clear that these organizations have no intention of properly addressing this problem,” Raisman said. “After all this time, they remain unwilling to conduct a full investigation, and without a solid understanding of how this happened, it is delusional to think sufficient changes can be implemented.”

Raisman’s lawsuit claims both organizations focused on medals instead of the well-being of the athletes, a model that allowed Nassar’s behavior to go unchecked for years.

The lawsuit says the USOC “had a culture and atmosphere that conceals known and suspected sexual abusers, which transcends all policies and procedures that are set-in place.” Raisman believes the USOC ignored its own mandates “to protect its reputation and blind itself to known abusers within the ranks of the NGBs (National Governing Bodies) for which it is responsible.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Watch and read Aly Raisman’s speech facing Larry Nassar

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
Getty
0 Comments

Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
Getty
0 Comments

Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!