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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Outgoing U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who has been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that Hirshland has replaced Lyons as USOC CEO. Hirshland starts in September, according to the USOC.

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Larry Nassar charged with sexual assault in Texas

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — Disgraced ex-sports doctor Larry Nassar and a former trainer were charged with sexual assault Friday following an investigation involving an elite gymnastics center in Texas.

A grand jury indicted Nassar on six counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child, Walker County prosecutor Stephanie Stroud announced during a news conference. She said a former trainer, Debbie Van Horn, was charged with one count.

The charges stem from an investigation at the famed gymnastics training center run by Bela and Martha Karolyi north of Houston. Five former gymnasts implored authorities last month to determine whether the Karolyis could have prevented abuse at their since-closed gymnastics ranch. Two gymnasts said Nassar abused them there.

“There are no criminal charges against the Karolyis at this time. We don’t believe at this time there’s any corroborated evidence to support criminal charges,” Stroud said, adding that the Karolyis have been cooperative during the investigation.

But, she added, “It’s our belief that there was a total failure by (USA Gymnastics) to protect athletes.”

Nassar is serving decades in prison for sexual assault and possession of child pornography in Michigan, where hundreds of women and girls accused him of sexually abusing them under the guise of medical treatment, including while he worked for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians, and Michigan State University.

Texas’ governor ordered an investigation into what he called “gut-wrenching” allegations after the gymnasts came forward in Texas. The Texas Rangers are leading the Texas investigation, which also includes Walker County prosecutors and sheriff’s officials.

The Karolyis have denied knowledge of any mistreatment.

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Liang Chow named China women’s gymnastics head coach, report says

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Liang Chow, who coached Gabby Douglas and Shawn Johnson to Olympic gymnastics gold, was named Chinese women’s national team head coach Thursday, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Messages left at Chow’s Gym seeking confirmation were not immediately returned.

“It will be a long road to go for the Chinese ladies,” Chow said, according to Xinhua. “For now, I need to focus on every single day to improve their strength. Step by step.”

Chow, a former Chinese national team member, came to the U.S. in 1991 and later opened a gym in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Chow’s first superstar pupil was Johnson, who won the 2007 World all-around title and four 2008 Olympic medals, including balance beam gold and all-around silver in Beijing.

Chow’s next Olympian, Douglas, won the all-around title in London in 2012 and, under different coaches, another team gold at Rio 2016. He later coached elite gymnasts Norah FlatleyRachel Gowey and Victoria Nguyen.

The Chinese women earned gold in Beijing in 2008, ahead of a Nastia Liukin– and Johnson-led U.S. team, then dropped back behind the U.S., taking fourth in 2012 and bronze in 2016 with silver medals at the last two world championships with team events in 2014 and 2015.

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