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Nina Bocharova, first Olympic balance beam champion, dies at 95

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Nina Bocharova, who won the first Olympic balance beam competition among four medals for the Soviet Union at the 1952 Helsinki Games, died on Monday at age 95, according to the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) and Ukraine’s Olympic Committee.

Bocharova, of Ukraine, was part of the Soviet Union’s first Olympic team in 1952. It dominated the women’s gymnastics competition, winning 11 medals overall, kicking off a run of eight straight Olympic team titles from 1952-80.

Bocharova was a Soviet national champion in 1949 and 1951. In Helsinki, she also earned silver in the first Olympic women’s all-around behind Mariya Horokhovska, who remains the only woman to win seven medals at a single Games in any sport.

Bocharova retired after earning team gold at the 1954 World Championships.

“With women’s artistic gymnastics still in its infancy, Bocharova exuded strength and grace, the trademarks for which the Soviet program came to be known,” according to the FIG.

Great Britain’s top gymnastics coach steps aside amid investigation

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LONDON — Great Britain’s top gymnastics coach will temporarily step aside while allegations about her conduct are investigated, the country’s governing body said Tuesday.

Amanda Reddin has denied the allegations, saying her reputation within the sport “is now subject to a trial by media rather than through the proper processes.”

“The investigation will be completed by an external independent expert and any outcome actioned immediately,” British Gymnastics said in a statement. “Our processes and investigations will also be scrutinized by the independent review.”

Last month, British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen announced an independent review of claims of mistreatment in the sport in Britain. Olympians Becky and Ellie Downie say they have suffered from abusive behavior in gymnastics training for many years.

Two gymnasts made allegations of mistreatment by Reddin — the head national coach — on Monday, the BBC reported.

On Tuesday, Amy Tinkler, who won a bronze medal in the floor competition at the 2016 Olympic Games, said Reddin was one of the coaches she issued a complaint about in December last year.

Tinkler said on Twitter she was told last week her complaints had been dealt with and the matter was closed. She said receiving that information left her feeling “sick.”

“It reinforced mine and every gymnast’s fear, which is that their complaints aren’t dealt with fairly and independently,” she tweeted.

“This is why we don’t speak up. This is why we suffer in silence. We know that to speak up is a pointless, career-ending task.”

A complaint against Reddin dating back to the 1980s was not upheld by British Gymnastics,

Regarding the latest allegations, Reddin said in a statement to ITV Sport: “I completely refute these claims, it is wrong that my reputation within the sport that I love is now subject to a trial by media rather than through the proper processes.

“I would welcome the allegations be submitted to the independent review into alleged abuse in gymnastics to ensure the integrity of the process is protected for both athletes and coaches.”

British Gymnastics said “there is no place for abuse in our sport” and that “those that speak out about mistreatment in gymnastics must be heard.”

MORE: Chellsie Memmel, 12 years after her Olympics, comes back to gymnastics

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Ex-Michigan State gymnastics coach sentenced in case tied to Larry Nassar

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LANSING, Mich. — A former Michigan State University head gymnastics coach was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail for lying to police during an investigation into former Olympic and university doctor Larry Nassar.

Kathie Klages, 65, was found guilty in February of a felony and a misdemeanor for denying she knew of Nassar’s abuse prior to 2016 when survivors started to come forward publicly. She also was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

Klages testified at trial, and in a tearful statement Tuesday, that she did not remember being told about the abuse. She said she had been seeing a therapist to try to remember the conversations, and she apologized to victims if they occurred.

“Even when I don’t express it to others, I struggle with what I’ve been accused of and what my role in this tragedy may have been,” she said in court.

Two women testified in November 2018 that they told Klages in 1997 that Nassar had sexually abused them and spoke Tuesday in court ahead of the sentencing. One of the women, Larissa Boyce, testified that Klages held up a piece of paper in front of the then-teenager and warned that if she filed a report there could be serious consequences.

“I am standing here representing my 16-year-old self who was silenced and humiliated 23 years ago and, unfortunately, all of the hundreds of girls that were abused after me,” Boyce said.

Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison for decades of molestation of young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment

The other woman who testified but has not publicly identified herself read statements from other alleged victims. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes unless they grant permission.

She said the way Klages refused to take responsibility and how their memories and testimony were refuted by the defense was “backwards and disappointing”.

“My hope was that she would be sorry and deeply apologize, but that is not the case,” she said. “The first and only adult I had ever told just cancelled all of my intuitions that sexual abuse is real and painful. She silenced me not only when I was 14 but for 20 years, as I did not have the confidence to speak up about it again.”

Klages attorney, Mary Chartier, has said if the case had not involved Nassar, Klages would never have been found guilty. She called Nassar a “master manipulator” and said Klages sent her granddaughter, daughter and sons to Nassar for health care.

Chartier tried to mitigate Klages’ part in the abuse, saying she was among “thousands” who had been present in the room during Nassar’s treatments, including parents.

Nassar’s accusers say he molested them with his ungloved hands, often without explanation, while they were seeking help for various injuries. He sometimes used a sheet or his body to block the view of any parent in the room.

“Numerous people were told about the procedure — nurses, athletic trainers at other schools, psychologists, doctors and a high school counselor — and they did nothing,” Chartier said, quoting investigation reports. “Most notably, police and prosecutors were aware of the procedures, and they did nothing. To ignore this and claim that Mrs. Klages could have stopped the devastation wrought by Mr. Nassar is just plain false.”

Nearly 200 letters were submitted to the judge on Klages’ behalf, including from former gymnasts.

Chartier argued that jail was an unfit punishment for Klages as a non-violent first offender, and because of her age and a heart murmur, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Defense planned to appeal the sentence.

After the hearing, Boyce said she was relieved to have testified against Klages and Nassar.

“I feel much lighter. I feel like I can breathe. I feel like I can finally move forward and past all this,” Boyce said. “I hope that the fact that she got jail time deters other people and people truly believe children and women who come forward with allegations of assault.”

Klages is the second person to be convicted of charges related to Nassar’s case. Nassar’s boss at Michigan State, ex-College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean William Strampel, was sentenced to jail for crimes including neglecting a duty to enforce protocols on Nassar after a patient complained about sexual contact in 2014.

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MORE: British gymnastics stars speak up about abuse amid investigation