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Aly Raisman files suit against USOC, USA Gymnastics

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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.”

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

Jessie Diggins, inspired by Body Issue, shares eating disorder battle

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Jessie Diggins hopes to open a conversation about body image after appearing in ESPN the Magazine‘s “Body Issue.” The Olympic gold medalist detailed her own experience with an eating disorder as a teenager in what she called “the most important blog I’ll ever write.”

“When I was 18-19 years old, I had everything in the world going for me, but I struggled with confidence and didn’t love myself,” Diggins, now 26, wrote on her website. “I suffered from an eating disorder, and eventually sought help at a treatment center, checking in for a summer program that saved my life. So when I was approached about the ESPN issue, I thought “is this REALLY something I want to do? Will it bring back old memories? Will I be ok with everyone seeing my body exactly as it is?”

Diggins is remembered for winning the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing title with Kikkan Randall in PyeongChang (Here comes Diggins!). In the cross-country world, she’s also reputed for her bubbly presence, spreading glitter across her face and sharing it with fellow skiers before races.

She wants to be associated with much more.

“I want to be known not for going through an eating disorder, but for helping other women and men speak up when they need help and not feel judged for needing a friend to talk it through with,” Diggins wrote. “Statistically speaking, at least 6% of you reading this right now are struggling with disordered eating in some way. So to those of you for whom it feels like the end of the world, I can say this: it can, and it does, get better. I know, because I lived it. It will take more courage than most anything else in your life, but you can get better. And it’s worth it.”

Years before becoming a medal-winning athlete, Diggins checked into The Emily Program, a national leader for eating disorder treatment.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but also the most important,” she wrote. “Because it saved my life, in every way that a life can be saved. I learned that I was struggling with this so much because I needed an outlet for stress, and that it was ok to feel a range of emotions – that I could survive feeling pressured, stressed, unhappy, sad, or angry as well as feeling happy-go-lucky.”

Diggins called posing for the Body Issue “a full-circle moment.” ESPN says the Body Issue celebrates every shape and size of athletes in artful fashion.

“[It’s] a chance for me to use a large stage to waltz right up to the microphone and share a message that I think is extremely important, and long overdue,” Diggins wrote. “We need to open up the conversation about body image, self confidence, and disordered eating. It should not be a shameful thing, or a taboo topic. It’s more prevalent than people think, and perhaps making help easier to find and less difficult to ask for could save some lives.”

MORE: Biathlon legend retires with four Olympic golds

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Darya Domracheva, triple Olympic gold medalist in Sochi, retires

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Darya Domracheva, a triple 2014 Olympic gold medalist and Belarus’ most decorated Olympian, has retired from biathlon at age 31.

Domracheva is leaving the sport because she could not continue in biathlon while raising daughter Xenia with husband Ole Einar Bjørndalen, the 13-time Olympic medalist biathlete for Norway.

“All the time after the season, I was trying to find a compromise which would allow me to raise a child and combine with a professional career at the same time,” Domracheva said, according to the International Biathlon Union (IBU). “Unfortunately I did not find an optimal solution which would allow me to combine those two important life parts. This decision is well weighted and very tough, but I finish my sports career.”

Domracheva was one of the biggest stars of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games as the only athlete to claim three individual gold medals, four years after being put on a Belarus postage stamp for earning an individual bronze. Domracheva could have competed for Russia, having been born in Minsk but raised in the remote western Siberia oil boom town of Nyagan, the birthplace of Maria Sharapova.

She became Belarus’ first female Olympic champion, saying she was “the hope of” Belarus, then was awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, “Hero of Belarus.”

After winning her only World Cup overall title in 2015, Domracheva missed the 2015-16 campaign with glandular fever, then in April 2016 announced she and Bjørndalen were in a relationship and having a child.

Domracheva returned to take a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships, then entered PyeongChang ranked fifth in the world. Domracheva struggled early in PyeongChang with finishes of ninth, 37th and 27th before earning mass start silver and relay gold.

Her six career Olympic medals are two more than anybody else from Belarus, and her four golds are double anybody else’s total from her country.

Belarus has only competed independently since the 1994 Lillehammer Games, having previously been part of the Soviet Union. Its top athletes who competed under other flags included gymnasts Olga Korbut (six medals, four golds for the Soviets) and Vitaly Scherbo (six golds in 1992 for the Unified Team; four bronzes in 1996 for Belarus).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

MORE: Biathlon president steps down after doping raid

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