Feds probe sex abuse in U.S. Olympic organizations

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Federal investigators are looking into the way the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and national governing bodies of Olympic sports handled sex-abuse allegations, people with knowledge of the investigations told The Associated Press on Friday.

The probes, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, come in the aftermath of the Larry Nassar sex-abuse cases that led to massive turnover at USA Gymnastics and the USOPC. The Journal, citing people familiar with the investigations, reported that the probes were wide-ranging and involved grand jury subpoenas that were sent to the USOPC and the U.S. Center for SafeSport — the organization formed in 2017 to handle sex-abuse cases in the Olympic world.

The people who told the AP about the investigations spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing probes.

The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors have spoken with potential witnesses about alleged abuse and misconduct in Olympic sports organizations, including USA Gymnastics and USA Taekwondo.

The Journal said USA Gymnastics’ lawyers have been responding to Justice Department subpoenas as recently as April, according to bankruptcy filings. The federation filed for bankruptcy last year.

In response to The Journal story, Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent out a joint statement saying the USOPC and its NGBs “turned a blind eye to criminal conduct and then (tried) to sweep it under the rug.”

“Everyone who allowed abuse to continue must be held responsible for any and all violations of the law,” the senators said.

They have proposed a bill that would strengthen congressional oversight of Olympic organizations.

USA Gymnastics issued a statement that read: “USA Gymnastics is striving to become an athlete-centric organization that keeps athlete safety and well-being at the forefront of everything it does. USA Gymnastics has cooperated fully with any governmental investigation and will continue to do so in the future.”

USA Taekwondo said: “While we are limited in what we can say while legal proceedings move forward, we want to state clearly that above all else, our top priority at USA Taekwondo is the safety of our athletes.”

The USOPC said it could not confirm the investigations.

“Every instance related to potential or actual abuse of athletes warrants thorough investigation,” spokesman Mark Jones said. “We have cooperated with all government inquiries and will continue to do so.”

One of the people familiar with the investigations told the AP the Justice Department is looking into how the FBI handled reports about Nassar’s abuse that it received from Steve Penny, who was CEO of USA Gymnastics when he delivered the information. He later resigned under pressure.

Nassar, the former national team doctor for USA Gymnastics, is now serving an effective life prison sentence for child porn possession and molesting young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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