USA Gymnastics president: mediation with Larry Nassar survivors

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BOSTON (AP) — The legal portion of the Larry Nassar scandal at USA Gymnastics may soon be over.

USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry said representatives for both the organization and athletes who were abused by Nassar — a former national team doctor who abused hundreds of women under the guise of medical treatment — met last week.

Perry called the mediation talks “not only productive but continuing to move us down the path of resolution.”

Perry made the remarks on Sunday in her first extended question-and-answer session with reporters since taking over last December.

Her public silence during the first 260 days of her tenure has drawn the ire of Nassar victims, including reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles, who last week it was time for Perry to speak up. Perry said she respected Biles’ opinion and called the kind of changes the organization is making in the wake of the scandal “scary.”

“I want her and all of our athletes to know we have their best interests at heart,” Perry said. “I would hope that they know that I and all of the leaderships have their best interests in mind.”

Perry says she spent her first eight months on the job trying to get a handle on the landscape within USA Gymnastics and allowed it’s difficult to communicate with survivors on an individual level due to the ongoing legal situation. Perry added the goal in the end is to have “our survivors standing side by side with our organization.”

Perry said USA Gymnastics has implemented 86 percent of the more than 70 recommended changes suggested by an independent review spearheaded by former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels. The changes include making the method to reporting abuse easier and creating an electronic system that allows the reports to be tracked.

Though several high-profile sponsorship deals have lapsed as part of the Nassar fallout, Perry says she is “very confident” USA Gymnastics will continue to “grow” and said potential partners are “looking forward to the changes we’re making.”

USA Gymnastics is also in the process of finding a new training facility after the organization pulled out of its agreement to buy the Karolyi Ranch north of Houston, a decision it only made after the urging of Biles, who pointed out it was one of the places where Nassar abused victims. Perry said the new center will be a “symbolic fixture that represents a lot of our mission and culture.”

There’s no timetable on when any final decision will be made, fitting for an organization that finds itself caught between addressing the past and trying to move into the future.

The leadership talks about becoming more transparent, but until the legal process wraps up, Perry will continue to be limited by what she can and cannot say.

She did her best to stick to her talking points during the 22-minute session and failed to directly answer several questions, including why USA Gymnastics did not include Nassar survivors during any portion of the U.S. Championships this weekend at the new Boston Garden.

While Perry insists on staying behind the scenes, others associated with the organization want her to take a more prominent role going forward.

“Going into it, our expectation was (she was) going to be the face of USA Gymnastics and be a positive change and a positive force,” said 2005 World champion Chellsie Memmel, who was on the committee who selected Perry to take over for Steve Penny, who resigned under pressure in March 2017. “So to me, that’s been a little bit disappointing and I’d like to see more. Just keep going and see what happens.”

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Athletes, anti-doping leaders issues statement on RUSADA status

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More Olympic athletes and anti-doping leaders have come out in protest of the possible reinstatement of Russia’s anti-doping agency.

Members of the athletes committees from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Olympic Committee, along with a group of international anti-doping leaders and a key supporter of a Russian whistleblower, released statements Tuesday urging WADA’s executive committee not to reinstate RUSADA when it meets later this week.

Jim Swartz, a supporter of former Moscow anti-doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, said “WADA has undermined its own moral and regulatory authority” by proposing a weakened version of the roadmap to bring RUSADA back into compliance.

The agency has been suspended for nearly three years in the wake of what investigators said was a state-sponsored doping scandal designed to win Olympic medals.

The WADA athletes’ group is led by Beckie Scott, who resigned her position on WADA’s compliance review committee after it recommended RUSADA’s reinstatement last week.

Italy’s focus for 2026 bid now on Milan, Cortina d’Ampezzo

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ROME (AP) — Italy’s three-pronged bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics has been reduced to a two-city candidacy featuring Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Following Turin’s exclusion, the Italian Olympic Committee is sending a delegation featuring Milan and Cortina representatives to meet with IOC leaders on Wednesday.

The move comes after government undersecretary and sports delegate Giancarlo Giorgetti told the Senate on Tuesday that the three-city proposal “is dead.”

Turin’s exclusion follows infighting between Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala and Turin counterpart Chiara Appendino, who had been arguing over the bid’s leadership and naming rights.

Peliminary bids are due to be presented at IOC meetings in Buenos Aires next month.

“The candidacy needs to be saved, so we’re open to moving forward together,” Veneto region president Luca Zaia and Lombardy region president Attilio Fontana said in a joint statement.

“If Turin is withdrawing, which upsets us, at this point two realities remain, and they are called Veneto and Lombardy. So we are moving forward with the Lombardy-Veneto Olympics.”

Under the revised plan, hockey and speedskating — which had been slotted for venues built for the 2006 Turin Games — would be held in Milan. Alpine skiing would be held in 1956 host Cortina, while biathlon would be slated for nearby Anterselva — a regular stop on the biathlon World Cup circuit.

Three other bids remain in contention for 2026: Stockholm, Sweden; Calgary, Canada; and Erzurum, Turkey.

The Japanese city of Sapporo dropped its bid on Monday following a recent earthquake.

International Olympic Committee members will pick the host in Milan in October 2019. While IOC rules have long prevented bids from the host country of an IOC session, new rules have created more leeway.

Italy is anxious to bring a bid through the entire process after two Rome candidacies were withdrawn.

Two years ago, Italy was forced to end Rome’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics because of staunch opposition from the city’s mayor. And in 2012, then-premier Mario Monti scrapped the city’s bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial concerns.