USA Gymnastics statement from CEO Kerry Perry

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USA Gymnastics hosted the American Cup on Saturday during a tumultuous time.

In January, Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct.

More than 150 women spoke at his sentencing, many critical of USA Gymnastics’ handling of the Nassar affair and its overall culture.

Shortly after, the entire USA Gymnastics board resigned under pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee. An interim board was recently appointed with six independent members added earlier this week.

On Wednesday, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun also resigned, citing ongoing health issues resulting from prostate cancer.

USA Gymnastics is searching for a replacement for women’s national team director Valeri Liukin, who resigned last month, citing stress from the present climate. Liukin was not named in any lawsuits against USA Gymnastics.

A statement from new USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry:

“There is no doubt that all of us have been forever changed by the courageous women who shared their deeply personal experiences in the sentencing of Larry Nassar. I was in the courtroom to listen to the incredibly brave women explain in vivid and painful detail the impact he had on their lives. The best way to honor our athletes is to ensure that we do everything we can to prevent this from happening again by making bold decisions and holding ourselves to the highest standards of care. We have already taken steps to strengthen our safe sport efforts, including adopting the Safe Sport Policy; requiring mandatory reporting; prohibiting one-on-one interactions and grooming behavior; simplified reporting; educating members regarding safe sport; continuing to implement all of the Deborah Daniels recommendations, of which 80 percent already are being implemented; and building an Athlete Task Force. The National Gymnastics Foundation, in cooperation with USA Gymnastics, has established an Athlete Assistance Fund to provide the financial means and guidance for gymnasts who have suffered sexual abuse in the sport of gymnastics to obtain counseling services. Our work is far from being done, and we are committed to further building an environment that empowers and supports our athletes as they develop the confidence, character and life skills that will allow them to succeed. We hope everything we do going forward makes this very clear. We need the gymnastics community to join with us to accomplish this for both the young men and women who are pursuing their gymnastics dreams today and to honor those who have gone before.

USA Gymnastics is committed to creating a culture that empowers and supports our athletes. The organization has and will continue to take specific and concrete steps to promote athlete safety and prevent future abuse by adopting and vigorously enforcing the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy, which requires mandatory reporting, defines six types of misconduct, sets standards to prohibit grooming behavior and prevent inappropriate interaction, and establishes greater accountability. Other efforts taken to strengthen that commitment include establishing a dedicated, toll-free number, 833-844-SAFE, the safe sport email address of safesport@usagym.org, and online reporting to simplify the process for reporting; building a safe sport department that is developing a comprehensive education plan for members; and adopting bylaw amendments to provide the basis for further developing our safe sport programs and governance. The National Gymnastics Foundation, in cooperation with USA Gymnastics, also has established an Athlete Assistance Fund to provide the financial means and guidance for gymnasts who have suffered sexual abuse in the sport of gymnastics to obtain counseling services. The Athlete Assistance Fund, a designated fund of the National Gymnastics Foundation, will be administered by an independent third party.”

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Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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