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.

Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

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Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

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France’s Alexis Pinturault won the world Alpine skiing championships combined at his home venue after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew a lead in the final seconds of his slalom run.

Pinturault, a 31-year-old who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years (the longest drought of his distinguished career), prevailed by one tenth of a second over the Austrian Schwarz in Courchevel, France.

“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.

Austrian Raphael Haaser took bronze in an event that combined times from a morning super-G run and an afternoon slalom run, one day after his older sister took bronze in the women’s combined.

River Radamus was fourth, a quarter of a second from becoming the first U.S. man to win an Alpine worlds medal since 2015. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds.

“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.

Five skiers finished within 2.98 seconds of the winner in an event that has been dropped from the annual World Cup schedule and is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Pinturault had the fastest super-G run by six hundredths over Schwarz. Schwarz, a slightly better slalom skier than Pinturault, erased that deficit early in the slalom and had a three tenths lead at the last intermediate split.

He gave it all away about six gates from the finish, slamming on the brakes. Moments later, he crossed the finish line one tenth behind Pinturault, who reacted by pumping his fists in the air.

The Frenchman earned his first race victory since the March 2021 World Cup Finals giant slalom, where he clinched his first World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Last season, Pinturault went winless on the World Cup for the first time since he was a teenage rookie in 2011, plus went medal-less at the Olympics.

Pinturault, who grew up in Courchevel and now co-owns the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna there, had retirement cross his mind in the offseason, according to Eurosport. He skipped a pre-worlds Sunday press conference due to illness.

Nonetheless, Pinturault was on the front page of French newspapers this week, including L’Equipe on Tuesday. In a sports cover story for Le Figaro, Pinturault said that, given the circumstances, it would be almost a “nice surprise” to go for a medal at these worlds.

Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G.

Olympic silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Jack Crawford of Canada were among the speed specialists who did not start the slalom. They essentially used the event as a training run for Thursday’s super-G.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the women’s super-G, where Mikaela Shiffrin is a medal contender but not the favorite. She can tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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