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Volume 25 No. 155
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USA Gymnastics Hoping Bankruptcy Filing Will Buy Time To Fix Issues

USA Gymnastics by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection "hopes it will buy enough time to resolve the lawsuits and convince the USOC that its days of embarrassing -- and avoidable -- missteps are over," according to Armour & Axon of USA TODAY. USAG BOD Chair Kathryn Carson said, "We're not looking to close our doors. We absolutely will continue as a not-for-profit organization to serve our sport. We are continuing to pursue all aspects of our current operating model and hope to maintain our NGB status." Armour & Axon note the filing, already "seen by many as caring more about its own interests than the health and safety of its athletes," could be "viewed as one more craven move designed to limit USA Gymnastics' legal liability and preserve its NGB status" (USA TODAY, 12/6). USA TODAY's Armour, Axon & Evans note the USOC last month "began the rare process of revoking" USAG's NGB status. USAG is "fighting the complaint, and Carson acknowledged that played a role in the decision to file for bankruptcy." In addition to staying legal and administrative claims, Chapter 11 protection "prevents assets from being taken away from a debtor." Carson: "Our ability to be the NGB is a very big part of how we raise our revenue and how we inspire athletes. I think it's pretty critical to our continued existence" (USA TODAY, 12/6).

CASTS DOUBT OVER FUTURE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's O'Brien & Ferek write with USAG's reputation "already shattered, the bankruptcy further casts into doubt USA Gymnastics' future as the custodian of the sport for tens of thousands of athletes across the U.S." The organization's fall "could have a lasting impact not just on the next Olympic Games, but on a generation of potential Olympic gymnasts." Carson said that the filing "wouldn't affect day-to-day operations and would allow USA Gymnastics 'to move forward with our plans to strengthen our organization" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/6). In California, Scott Reid writes the filing is the "latest embarrassment" for USAG, which has seen the Larry Nassar scandal and top officials' "alleged attempts to cover up his decades of sexual abuse cast a shadow over Team USA's domination of global women's gymnastics this decade" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/6). In DC, Liz Clarke writes as the USOC and USAG "trade procedural moves, hundreds of young women await redress for emotional and psychological damage inflicted" by Nassar (WASHINGTON POST, 12/6).

NOT THINKING OF THE VICTIMS: The REGISTER's Reid notes former gymnast Jeanette Antolin, a five-year member of the U.S. national team, "described the filing as a 'slap to the face' to Nassar's survivors." Antolin, a Nassar survivor herself, said, "Once again USA Gymnastics is looking out for No. 1, themselves. They're not putting the athletes first. They're not putting the survivors first" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/6). In Houston, David Barron notes California-based attorney John Manly, who represents several dozen Nassar victims, compared the USAG filing to "bankruptcy petitions filed by several Catholic dioceses around the country in reaction to claims of sexual abuse by clergymen." Manly said, "This is a page right out of the Catholic hierarchy playbook. The most offensive part of this is that they say they are doing this to help the victims. That's like saying that you're punching somebody in the face so that they can see a good dentist" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/6).