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World, Olympic champ Biles to compete in Germany in March

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World and Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles will make her 2019 debut at a World Cup meet in Germany in March.

Biles hasn’t competed since the 2018 world championships in Doha, Qatar, where she won five medals, including four golds. That pushed her overall world championship medal total to 20, tied for the most ever by a female gymnast. The 21-year-old headlines the field for the meet in Stuttgart on March 16-17.

Biles will be joined by 2010 world champion and seven-time Olympic medalist Aliya Mustafina of Russia, Elisabeth Seitz and Pauline Schaefer of Germany, Lorette Charpy of France, Hitomi Hatakeda of Japan, Carolyne Pedro of Brazil and Anne-Marie Padurariu of Canada.

Two-time Olympic medalist David Belyavskiy of Russia, two-time Olympic medalist Marcel Nguyen of Germany and Sun Wei of China lead the men’s field. American Akash Modi, Frank Baines of Britain, Teppei Miwa of Japan, Bart Deurloo of The Netherlands, Eddy Yusof of Switzerland and Petro Pakhniuk of Ukraine round out the field.

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More sexual abuse claims rock South Korean skating as Shim Suk-hee comes forward

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — More South Korean female skaters are accusing their coaches of sexually abusing them, a group representing the athletes disclosed Monday following claims by two-time Olympic champion Shim Suk-hee that her former coach had repeatedly raped her.

The announcement came amid a growing #MeToo movement in South Korea’s elite sports scene, which has been notorious for a brutal training culture and highly hierarchical relationships between coaches and athletes.

In addition to Shim, female athletes in judo, taekwondo and wrestling have also accused their male coaches of sexually abusing them. Members of the country’s silver medal-winning Olympic curling team, cheered as the Garlic Girls for their hometown’s famed produce, have accused their former coaches of verbal abuse and holding back prize money.

In a news conference at South Korea’s parliament, a group called Solidarity for Young Skaters said five other skaters had been sexually abused by their coaches. The group didn’t reveal any names, citing privacy worries.

Lawmaker Sohn Hye-won, who appeared in the same news conference, said one of the alleged victims said she was repeatedly groped as a teen by a coach while training at the Korea National Sport University, a powerhouse in producing Olympic athletes. The skater said the unidentified coach would forcibly hug and kiss her and verbally abused her after she rejected his advances, Sohn said.

Sohn also called for an investigation into former national team coach Jeon Myeong-gyu, who is somewhat of a godfather figure in South Korean skating. Currently a professor at KNSU, Jeon has long been accused of nepotism for favoring athletes and coaches from the school in international competition and is now under suspicion of pressuring victims in order to cover up sex crimes committed by coaches he taught.

“There has been frequent sexual abuse in the skating scene, but the offenders in most cases did not receive punishment; that’s because the coaches were members of the KNSU circle led by Professor Jeon Myeong-gyu,” said Sohn, adding that the victims are afraid they’ll face retaliation if they come forward with their claims.

Jeon later said at a separate news conference that he feels sorry for Shim and didn’t know she was abused. He denied that he attempted to cover up abusive conduct by his students.

“There’s no way for me to know about every act of sexual violence that takes place. I am not in a position to know that much,” he said.

Sohn and the skaters’ group also urged Korean Sport and Olympic Committee President Lee Kee-heung and other officials to step down for failing to safeguard athletes. The committee said it plans to launch a special committee to investigate abuse across sports and create new rules to protect athletes.

Experts say abusive treatment of female athletes has long been a problem in South Korean elite sports, which are often run by men. Athletes must live in dormitories, where coaches often exercise overbearing control, and they skip school from a young age in order to perform well at athletic events, leaving them with less education and career choices, which makes it harder for them to resist unjust treatment, critics say.

South Korea has associated Olympic achievements with national pride, and the problems regarding training cultures have often been overlooked as long as the athletes succeed.

But the pressure for change is now coming from a younger generation of athletes, led by Shim, who won two gold medals in women’s short-track speed skating in the 2018 and 2014 Winter Olympics.

Shim earlier this month accused her former coach, Cho Jae-beom, of repeatedly raping her since she was 17.

Cho was fired as the national team coach shortly before the Pyeongchang Olympics last year and is now serving a 10-month prison term for physically assaulting athletes, including Shim. Cho’s lawyers said he denies sexually assaulting Shim.

Shim’s claims have encouraged other female athletes to speak up about the alleged abuse they suffered from their male coaches. Shin Yoo-young, a former judo athlete, has also accused her former high school coach of repeatedly raping her. Lee Ji-hye, a former taekwondo athlete, told a television interview that she had been sexually abused by her former coach for five years, starting when she was a sixth-grader.

The Korea Wrestling Federation is also investigating claims that a coach groped some female members of the national team while they were training for the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games last year.

Fallout from Larry Nassar scandal continues with latest resignation

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Michigan State University’s governing body on Thursday accepted interim president John Engler’s resignation , but said it would be effective immediately rather than next week. It’s the latest development stemming from the sexual assault investigation of now-imprisoned gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Engler took over at the school on a temporary basis after the previous president quit in the wake of fallout from the scandal. The board appointed Satish Udpa as the new interim president. He currently serves as the school’s executive vice president for administration.

Numerous people have been charged, fired or forced out of their jobs during the investigations into the once-renowned sports doctor. He was sentenced to decades in prison after hundreds of girls and women said he sexually molested them under the guise that it was medical treatment, including while he worked for Michigan State and Indiana-based USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Here’s a look at some of the individuals and organizations that have been affected:

MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

— Lou Anna Simon: The university president and school alumna resigned last January amid growing pressure. She denied any cover-up by the university. The governing board later hired Engler. Heresigned amid fallout from remarks he made about some victims of Nassar.

The school has settled lawsuits totaling $500 million. Simon is charged with two felony and two misdemeanor counts of lying to a police officer in connection with the investigation.

— Mark Hollis: The athletic director called his departure last year a retirement, but he, too, faced pressure to leave.

— Kathie Klages: The former head gymnastics coach resigned in 2017 after she was suspended for defending Nassar over the years. Klages was charged with lying to investigators. If convicted, she could face up to four years in prison. She has denied allegations that former gymnast Larissa Boyce told her that Nassar had abused her in 1997, when Boyce was 16.

— Brooke Lemmen: The former school doctor resigned in 2017 after learning the university was considering firing her because she didn’t disclose that USA Gymnastics was investigating Nassar. A state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs investigation cleared her of any violations in November.

— William Strampel: The former dean of the university’s College of Osteopathic Medicine is awaiting trial after being charged in March amid allegations that he failed to keep Nassar in line, groped female students and stored nude student selfies on his campus computer. Strampel, who has also been named in lawsuits, retired June 30, even as Michigan State was trying to fire him.

— Bob Noto: The university in February announced the departure of its longtime vice president for legal affairs. The school called it a retirement. Noto had been Michigan State’s general counsel since 1995.

USA GYMNASTICS

— Rhonda Faehn: The former senior vice president of the organization was dismissed this month by the University of Michigan after working for just a few days as a coaching consultant for its women’s team. She was fired after an outcry over her hiring. USA Gymnastics parted ways with Faehn as senior vice president in May after she was criticized by Nassar’s victims for not contacting authorities about potential abuse concerns.

— Valeri Liukin: The coordinator of the women’s national team for USA Gymnastics announced in early February that he was stepping down, less than 18 months after taking over for Martha Karolyi. Liukin said that while he wanted to help turn around the program, “the present climate causes me, and more importantly my family, far too much stress, difficulty and uncertainty.”

— USA Gymnastics said last January that its entire board of directors would resign, as requested by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The USOC last month took steps to decertify the gymnastics organization that picks U.S. national teams, and USA Gymnastics filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition last week as it attempts to reach settlements in the dozens of sex-abuse lawsuits it faces and to forestall its potential demise at the hands of the USOC.

— Steve Penny: The former president and CEO of the organization resigned under pressure in March 2017. He was replaced by Kerry Perry, who took over in December 2017. Penny pleaded not guilty in October to a third-degree felony alleging he ordered the removal of documents relating to Nassar from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas.

— Less than a year after being hired as USA Gymnastics’ president and CEO, Perry resigned in September after the USOC questioned her ability to lead the scandal-rocked organization.

— Former California U.S. Rep. Mary Bono was hired in October as the interim president for USA Gymnastics only to resign four day later. Bono said she felt her affiliation with the embattled organization would be a “liability” after a social media post by Bono criticizing Nike and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew widespread scrutiny within the gymnastics community. Six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman also questioned Bono’s association with a law firm that advised the organization on how to handle portions of the Nassar scandal.

— Ron Galimore: The longtime USA Gymnastics chief operating officer resigned in November but denied any wrongdoing in the Nassar scandal. The Indianapolis Star reported in May that an attorney hired by USA Gymnastics directed Galimore to come up with a false excuse to explain Nassar’s absence at major gymnastic events in the summer of 2015. The organization was looking into complaints against Nassar at the time.

TWISTARS GYMNASTICS CLUB

— John Geddert: The owner of the Michigan club was suspended last January by USA Gymnastics and announced his retirement. He was the U.S. women’s coach at the 2012 Olympics. Geddert has said he had “zero knowledge” of Nassar’s crimes.

KAROLYI RANCH

— USA Gymnastics said last January that the Texas ranch where a number of gymnasts said Nassar abused them would no longer serve as the national training center. Owners Martha and Bela Karolyi have since sued the USOC and USA Gymnastics, seeking damages for a canceled sale of the property. They also have been named in lawsuits.

— Debra Van Horn: Texas prosecutors in June filed sexual assault charges against Nassar and Van Horn, a trainer who worked at his side at the Karolyi Ranch and also worked at USA Gymnastics for 30 years. She was charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child. The local prosecutor said Van Horn was charged with “acting as a party” with Nassar.

U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

— Scott Blackmun: The CEO resigned in February, citing difficulties with prostate cancer and the federation’s need to move forward to deal with the sexual abuse scandal. There had been calls for his departure.

— Alan Ashley: The USOC fired the chief of sport performance last month in the wake of an independent report that said neither he nor Blackmun elevated concerns about the Nassar allegations when they were first reported to them.