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New USOC CEO calls for another shakeup at USA Gymnastics

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DENVER (AP) — Not a month into her new job as CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland has seen enough from USA Gymnastics.

She’s calling for yet another shake-up in the federation’s leadership as it tries to remake itself in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal.

Hirshland sent out a statement Friday night calling for changes in the USA Gymnastics leadership, only hours after the federation awkwardly fired the coach it had hired only three days earlier as its elite program coordinator.

The coach, Mary Lee Tracy, was an early supporter of Nassar when allegations against him began to surface. Then, without permission this week, Tracy reached out to one of her fiercest critics, gold medalist Aly Raisman, who is suing USAG.

“As we close the day, I’m afraid I can offer nothing but disappointment,” Hirshland said. “Under the circumstances, we feel that the organization is struggling to manage its obligations effectively and it is time to consider making adjustments in the leadership.”

She said the USOC would be reaching out to the USAG board over the weekend to discuss changes.

That likely spells trouble for Kerry Perry, who took over for Steve Penny as president of USA Gymnastics in November 2017.

Perry has made very few public statements, and has had trouble gathering support in the gymnastics community, since taking over as part of a USOC-directed turnover of the federation’s board and senior management.

USAG officials did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Two weekends ago at national championships, Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, a Nassar abuse victim herself, withheld judgment on the path USA Gymnastics has taken, saying “nobody can know until Kerry Perry speaks up. It’s kind of hard.”

Perry did speak up later that weekend, saying all but a few of the 70 recommendations suggested by an independent review of the federation’s actions had been implemented.

Much of that progress has been overshadowed by a steady stream of new allegations against Nassar and missteps by USA Gymnastics.

Tracy’s hiring certainly had the look of an unforced error.

She was on record as having supported Nassar in 2016, when allegations began surfacing.

As soon as Tracy was hired, Raisman, who has emerged as one of USA Gymnastics’ most vocal critics, called it “a slap in the face for survivors, and further proof that nothing at USAG has changed.”

Shortly after that, Tracy reached out to Raisman to apologize and talk about the future.

But USAG didn’t approve of that, and released a statement Friday afternoon saying Tracy had inappropriately contacted the gymnast, and had to ask for Tracy’s resignation.

The call by Hirshland comes as the USOC itself is under the microscope for its own handling of sex-abuse allegations.

She took over for Scott Blackmun, who resigned as CEO in February due to health problems, while calls for his ouster were increasing for what critics said was the USOC’s own slow reaction and unwillingness to take responsibility for abuse in Olympic sports.

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MORE: Biles stands with fellow survivors with leotard choice

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned four 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)