US opens sexual abuse investigations in sports amid gymnastics scandal

USOC Chairman Larry Probst and USOC CEO Scott Blackmun addressing the media during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Park City, Utah. (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2018
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US opens sexual abuse investigations in sports amid gymnastics scandal

US officials opened broad investigations on Friday into sexual abuse in sports, while pressure mounted on the USA Gymnastics board of directors to resign en masse two days after the former national team doctor who molested female athletes was handed an effective life prison sentence.
A week of gut-wrenching revelations by gymnasts, including Olympic medalists Aly Raisman and Simone Biles, led to separate investigations by the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and the US Department of Education.
Those investigations seek to establish if other sports officials turned a blind eye to doctor Larry Nassar’s abuses and to examine allegations of harassment by officials in other sports, including swimming and taekwondo.
USA Gymnastics director Michael Burns, the head men’s gymnastics coach at the University of Minnesota, said on Friday that he had resigned from the group’s board, becoming at least the fifth director to do so as a result of the scandal.
The US Olympic Committee (USOC) has threatened to revoke the group’s authority to organize its sport if the remaining directors, a count that stands at 16 after Burns’ departure, did not step down by Wednesday.
Raisman vowed to keep the pressure on sports organizations, to see who else knew about Nassar’s abuse. He worked for the federation through four Olympic Games, but the allegations did not come to light until 2016.
“Everyone stood up for him,” Raisman said in an interview with ABC’s “The View.” “My work, and the army of survivors, we’re not done yet. We still have to hold these organizations accountable.”
A USA Gymnastics spokeswoman declined to confirm if the remaining directors would resign by the deadline.
None of the remaining listed directors were immediately available for comment.
Investigators from the US House of Representatives sent letters to the USOC, USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming, USA Taekwondo and Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked, asking questions about sexual abuse. US Senators also announced an investigation earlier this week.
“My heart breaks for the survivors of Larry Nassar’s disgusting crimes,” said US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose department will also investigate Michigan State University. “What happened at Michigan State is abhorrent. It cannot ever happen again.”
The school’s sports director, Mark Hollis, retired on Friday, two days after university President Lou Anna Simon stepped down.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose office prosecuted Nassar, confirmed on Friday on Twitter that his office is investigating Michigan State University.
The USOC’s own investigation into how Nassar was able to abuse victims for years will include looking at whether any USOC officials themselves turned a blind eye to his actions.
Nassar, 54, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison by a Michigan state judge on Wednesday for carrying out the attacks on young girls under the guise of medical treatment. More than 150 accusers recounted their stories in the courtroom.
USOC Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun called on Thursday for the resignation of all current members board of USA Gymnastics and outlined six steps that the organization must take to achieve governance reform.
“While the USOC encourages USAG to think and act broadly on reforming its culture, we also believe that reform must start with an entirely new board,” Blackmun wrote in a letter to USA Gymnastics’ board.
USA Gymnastics said in a statement that it “completely embraces” the requirements laid out by Blackmun.
The scandal could take a financial toll on the sports federation for years, sponsorship executives said. The group already stands to lose millions of dollars in revenue through the 2020 Olympic Games, as sponsors back away the executives said.
In Washington on Friday, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, in announcing its investigation, said sports organizations “must have mechanisms in place to ensure complete oversight and prevent such abuses from occurring.”
The panel asked Michigan State to disclose if it is aware of any other abuse allegations involving other faculty members.
The US House next week will vote on a bill approved by the Senate in November to require amateur athletics governing bodies to report sex-abuse allegations immediately to law enforcement or a child welfare agency.
The bill makes clear that aspiring Olympic athletes can report allegations of abuse and ensures all national governing bodies follow the strictest standards for child abuse prevention.


Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

Updated 23 September 2018
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Work still to be done for Egypt's Al-Ahly in quest for African Champions League glory

  • The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title
  • Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2

CAIRO: Al-Ahly coach Patrice Carteron has warned his players against complacency in their forthcoming African Champions League semifinal clash against Setif of Algeria, even though his side swept through with a 4-0 quarterfinal second-leg victory over Guinea’s Horoya in Cairo on Saturday.
The Egyptian giants took a step closer to a ninth continental title with the win against the Guineans after a goalless first leg. From the moment Walid Soliman opened the scoring after 32 minutes at the Al-Salam Stadium, the result was never in doubt as the Reds put in a dominant performance.
Second half goals from Islam Mohareb, Salah Mohsen and Ahmed Fathy confirmed the win.
“It was a good performance, especially as the pitch was poor,” Carteron said. “We are happy to go through but we controlled the game, especially in the second half when we were at our best. We adjusted our offensive strategy at the break and that made a difference.”
Attention immediately changed to the first leg against Setif in Cairo on Oct. 2.
“We know that the game will be very tough as Setif are a strong team but this is the semifinal of the Champions League, you know that any game is going to be tough,” added the Frenchman.
Setif defeated defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 on aggregate and will host Al-Ahly in Algeria in the second leg on Oct. 23.
“Setif were the champions in 2014 and we know that we are going to have be at our best if we are going to the final,” said the 48 year-old, who also coached TP Mazembe of Congo to the 2015 title. He is aiming to deliver similar success for Al-Ahly, who last lifted the trophy in 2013.
“When I took the job three months ago, the target was clear: to win the Champions League. That is still the objective and we have taken a big step toward that today.
“Standards in the competition are getting better all the time and results in the quarterfinal show this,” Carteron said, adding that he and his players had taken note of how Mazembe had been knocked out at the last-eight stage.
“Now we are in the semifinal and we have to prepare as well as we can to face Setif. It will be a big challenge but we are looking forward to it.”
Setif reached the semifinal after a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Morocco on Friday to take the tie 1-0 on aggregate following a win on Algerian soil a week earlier.
Goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba was the star of the show in Casablanca and made a number of fine saves to deny the defending champions.
It was a feather in the cap for coach Rachid Taoussi, a Moroccan who coached Wydad from 2002 to 2003.
“We managed this game very well,” Taoussi said. “We withstood the pressure. It is not easy to keep out such a team, especially with their fans behind them. In the end they had to play long balls and that made it easier for us to defend.”
While Morocco may have lost its sole representative left in the competition, Taoussi is flying the flag for his homeland. “I am proud to be Moroccan. I respect Wydad and the supporters a lot. It’s not easy for anyone to come here and play like we did.
“It is also a demonstration for those who constantly criticize the skills of Moroccan coaches. I’m so happy. That said, the most important thing for us now is to think about going even further in this competition, that is, reaching the final. We have one more step to go; we will give everything until the end.”
The other semifinal sees a third North African team trying to reach the showpiece event as Esperance de Tunis take on Clube Desportivo de Agosto of Angola.