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USOC files to remove itself as defendant in Larry Nassar lawsuits

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DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Olympic Committee is trying to remove itself as a defendant in lawsuits by gold medalists McKayla Maroney, Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman, three of the gymnasts who sued the federation and others for their roles in the Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal.

In court papers filed last Friday, the USOC acknowledges it is “appropriately” part of “discussions concerning moral and social responsibility for sexual abuse, including legitimate questions about what could have been done to recognize and stop Nassar’s abuse.”

But, the motions say, there are no legal grounds to sue the USOC because Nassar never worked for the federation, nor were Nassar’s crimes foreseeable by the USOC.

USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky lauded the fortitude of the victims and reiterated some of his group’s efforts in response to the scandal — the opening of the U.S. Center for SafeSport and an investigation into what the USOC knew about the crimes and how it reacted.

“Our filing addresses an entirely different question, namely the legal responsibility for Nassar’s crimes,” Sandusky said.

Nassar, who is in prison for assault and child pornography crimes, was a volunteer for USA Gymnastics, which is also named as a defendant in several of the lawsuits.

The gymnasts contend the USOC, as an umbrella organization that oversees USA Gymnastics, should have done more when it learned of the abuse.

The USOC filed motions to dismiss itself as the defendant in six lawsuits overall, three of which were filed by plaintiffs identified as Jane Doe.

The USOC acknowledges there is “no debate regarding the harm Nassar caused,” or the plaintiffs’ “courage and strength in responding to his crimes.”

At issue in these motions is the murky relationship between the USOC and the national governing bodies — the organizations that run the individual Olympic sports. Those organizations receive funding and guidance from the USOC.

The USOC has ultimate authority to certify them, but it has little to do with their day-to-day operations, hirings or training methods. The USOC is now looking into redefining its relationship with the NGBs.

On Tuesday, the USOC’s interim CEO, Susanne Lyons, will appear before a Senate subcommittee to discuss changes the USOC has made since Nassar’s abuse was uncovered.

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Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)