US sex abuse scandal could be equivalent of Russian doping scandal: Olympic official

The sentencing of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar on Wednesday to 175 years in prison for molesting athletes including Olympic gold medallists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber, has sparked outrage and multiple investigations. (AP)
Updated 27 January 2018
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US sex abuse scandal could be equivalent of Russian doping scandal: Olympic official

TORONTO: The sex abuse scandal engulfing USA Gymnastics could become the United States’ equivalent of the doping controversy involving Russian athletes at the last Winter Games, senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound has said.
The sentencing of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar on Wednesday to 175 years in prison for molesting athletes including Olympic gold medallists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber, has sparked outrage and multiple investigations into sexual abuse in sports.
A week of gut-wrenching courtroom revelations by gymnasts has 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 Nassar’s abuses and to examine allegations of harassment by officials in other sports, including swimming and taekwondo.
Pound, who oversaw the IOC investigation of the bribery scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and set up the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said the IOC was unlikely to get directly involved in any investigation or to sanction the US Olympic Committee (USOC) for failing to act faster.
But he said the issue could find its way onto the agenda of next week’s IOC session in South Korea ahead of the Pyeongchang Winter Games, and that he might raise the topic if no one else does.
“This is kind of the US equivalent in abuse of the Russian doping. It might well (become the next big issue),” Pound said.
He said that the scandal had not been on the IOC’s horizon when the agenda for next week’s meeting was drawn up.
“Certainly if there is no indication that anybody is going to do it there is always the opportunity under ‘other business’ to say, ‘Hey, maybe perhaps we haven’t had a chance to get the right back swing in here, but what is the IOC going to do with the whole problem?” he said.
The IOC banned Russia last month from Pyeongchang over “systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system at the 2014 Sochi Games. It left the door open to athletes with no history of doping to compete as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”
A total of 169 Russian athletes have been cleared to compete at the Pyeongchang Olympic Games.
With Nassar condemned to spend the rest of his life behind bars, the focus has shifted to the coaches, federations and institutions, including the USOC, that allowed the abuse in US gymnastics to go unchecked.
On Wednesday, the USOC threatened to decertify USA Gymnastics unless the 18 members on the board of directors were replaced. Several resigned as a result of the scandal, and USA Gymnastics said on Friday that its remaining directors would also step down.
The USOC itself has also been attacked by some of gymnastics’ biggest names.
Raisman, a triple Olympic gold medallist, said that both USA Gymnastics and the USOC had been quick to capitalize on and celebrate her success.
“But did they reach out when I came forward? No,” she said in court this week.


Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

Updated 19 February 2019
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Naomi Osaka shocked as Kristina Mladenovic downs world No. 1 in Dubai

  • It was Osaka's first match since she won the Australian Open — her second consecutive Grand Slam title.
  • World No. 67 Mladenovic lost for words after surprise win.

DUBAI: Naomi Osaka stumbled badly in her first match since winning the Australian Open as the world number one went down in a flurry of errors to exit the Dubai Championships on Tuesday.
Dubai-based Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic claimed a 6-3, 6-3 victory to reach the third round as Osaka made 25 unforced errors.
The rout, which featured seven breaks of the Osaka serve, took barely an hour, sending Mladenovic into a Wednesday contest with Carla Suarez Navarro.
“This is my home tournament, I live here,” world No. 67 Mladenovic said. “It’s great to get a win like this in front of a big crowd.
“Beating the number one is always special.”
The second set was riddled with seven consecutive breaks of serve before Mladenovic finished off the job with a winner to the empty court on match point.
Osaka stunned the tennis world last week by announcing her split from coach Sascha Bajin despite winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US and Australian Opens.
She said earlier this week that she would not prioritize “success over happiness” when asked about the sacking, and she never looked like winning in Dubai as she also served five double faults.
Earlier on Tuesday, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova both won their opening matches, while Elina Svitolina made a strong start to her bid for a third straight title.
Kvitova, the 2013 winner, recovered from losing a first-set tiebreak to defeat Katerina Siniakova 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4 and squeeze into the third round.
Halep, Dubai champion in 2015, saw off 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
The Romanian said she is still feeling the effects of her weekend final defeat in Doha by Elize Mertens.
“It was a good match because I won it. I tried to finish the points faster because I’m a little bit tired,” Halep said.
“She played well, the level was pretty good. At some points I really ran very well. I’m confident. I feel good on court even if I’m tired.”
A third former world number one also advanced as Angelique Kerber beat Dalila Jakupovic 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Kvitova, Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, said she was unfazed about the early midday start to her match.
“I don’t really care if I play the first match,” the Australian Open runner-up said. “Now I’m done, so I have a free afternoon.
“I’m not sure what I’m pleased with... maybe with my comeback at the end.”