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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.

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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