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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.

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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