World champion gymnast sues Karolyis, others over Larry Nassar abuse

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HOUSTON (AP) — A former member of the U.S. national team on Tuesday became the latest gymnast to file suit over sexual abuse by imprisoned former sports doctor Larry Nassar’s, alleging USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the husband-and-wife duo who coached America’s top female gymnasts for three decades failed to protect her and other athletes.

Sabrina Vega, who was on the team that won a gold medal at the 2011 World Championships, alleges the organizations along with Bela and Martha Karolyi ignored signs about Nassar’s behavior or should have known he posed a risk to the gymnasts he treated.

Vega alleges that during medical treatments, Nassar molested her hundreds of times from 2008, when she 12 years old, until 2012, during competitions and while she trained at the Karolyi Ranch. The ranch is located outside of Huntsville, about 70 miles north of Houston. Vega’s lawsuit was filed in state district court in Huntsville.

“I have struggled to cope with the effects of the repeated abuse I suffered at the hands of Dr. Nassar. USA Gymnastics, the USOC and the Karolyis failed to protect me and the other athletes in their care and I believe they should be held accountable,” the 22-year-old Vega said in a statement.

Vega, who now competes as a gymnast for the University of Georgia, said Nassar’s abuse has caused her depression, panic attacks and anxiety, which have become worse as Nassar’s case has become widely publicized.

In a statement, USA Gymnastics said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but the organization is “committed to creating a culture that empowers and supports our athletes and focuses on our highest priority, which is the safety and well-being of our athletes.”

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement that Nassar’s “reprehensible behavior” has no place “in our Olympic and Paralympic community” and that the organization “has made significant progress to strengthen protections for athletes, and we recognize that our work is never done.”

An attorney for the Karolyis didn’t immediately reply to emails or calls seeking comment Tuesday.

The Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday the Karolyis had quietly filed a lawsuit last month in Huntsville against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee, seeking more than $1 million in damages. The lawsuit says the couple didn’t know about Nassar’s “reprehensible conduct” and would have reported it if there had been any suspicions about him.

In an interview with “Dateline NBC” that aired last month, Martha Karolyi said she feels for Nassar’s victims but added she doesn’t believe she should be held responsible for his actions.

More than 250 women and girls say Nassar, who worked for USA Gymnastics, sexually assaulted them under the guise of treatment. He’s now serving up to 175 years in prison for molesting women and girls and possessing child pornography.

Several gymnasts have said Nassar abused them at the ranch, which served as the training ground for U.S. women’s gymnastics. Vega alleges in her suit the Karolyis allowed Nassar to enter the cabins of female gymnasts alone and unsupervised to perform his training techniques.

The ranch is being investigated by the Texas Rangers and the Walker County Sheriff’s Office. USA Gymnastics cut ties with the ranch in January.

Vega’s lawsuit is the second filed in Texas in the last few weeks related to the abuse scandal. Last month, Rebecca Whitehurst, a former Texas gymnast who had been a member of the USA Gymnastics team filed suit in Houston, alleging Nassar abused her in 1996 when she was 15 years old.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona World Championships women’s pro race

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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