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Written by Amanda Turner    Friday, 02 March 2018 09:28    PDF Print
Raisman Sues USOC, USAG: 'I Refuse to Wait Any Longer'
(4 votes, average 4.00 out of 5)

Two-time U.S. Olympic gymnastics team captain Aly Raisman filed a civil suit Wednesday against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics over the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Two-time U.S. Olympic gymnastics team captain Aly Raisman filed a civil suit Wednesday against the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics over the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of former team doctor Larry Nassar.

"I refuse to wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing," Raisman said in a statement. "It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed."

Raisman, 23, filed a suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Wednesday against the USOC, USA Gymnastics and Nassar, along with former USAG CEO Steve Penny and former USAG Chairman of the Board Paul Parilla.

The complaint alleges that the USOC was "aware, at the highest levels of its organization, that Defendant Nassar had molested Olympic and National Team level gymnasts who participated with Defendant USAG."

The Massacchusetts native is represented by California attorney John Manly, who also represents her former teammates McKayla Maroney, Mattie Larson and Maggie Nichols, as well as the first gymnast to file a lawsuit in the Nassar case, 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher. Raisman states that as a result of the abuse she suffers from anxiety and depression.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun resigned Wednesday, citing health reasons. Blackmun had resisted calls to step down and maintained he and the USOC acted appropriately concerning Nassar and USA Gymnastics, but continued pressure and more revelations about sex abuse rampant in Olympic sports continue to plague the USOC.

"It has become painfully clear that these organizations have no intention of properly addressing this problem," Raisman said in her statement. "After all this time, they remain unwilling to conduct a full investigation, and without a solid understanding of how this happened, it is delusional to think sufficient changes can be implemented."

The six-time Olympic medalist has emerged as a leader off the competition floor and fierce advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, change in sports and body positivity. She publicly spoke up on USA Gymnastics' record of handling sexual abuse in the sport even prior to revealing last fall that she too had been sexually assaulted by the once-respected team doctor, who manipulated his patients into believing he was providing legitimate osteopathic treatment to relieve their pain.

In January, Raisman's blistering victim impact statement delivered at Nassar's first state sentencing hearing in Michigan was a rallying cry at a hearing full of shocking and heartbreaking stories of abuse and destroyed lives. She was one of 256 survivors who delivered statements at two hearings in Michigan in January and February.

"I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I have regained my strength, that I am no longer a victim," Raisman told him. "I am a survivor."

Raisman revealed that treatments with the team doctor, who was even allowed to come to their rooms unaccompanied, were mandatory for the members of the U.S. women's gymnastics team. She attacked the USOC and USA Gymnastics for their negligence and passive response to the tragedy.

"I have represented the United States of America in two Olympics and have done so successfully," Raisman said. "And both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee have been very quick to capitalize and celebrate my success. But did they reach out when I came forward? No."

Raisman mocked the leadership of USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry, who had only briefly attended the hearing in Lansing, Michigan, and thus was not there when she and 2012 Olympic teammate Jordyn Wieber delivered their statements. She accused USA Gymnastics of "rotting from the inside" and called on Ingham County Judge Rosemarie E. Aquilina to sentence Nassar to the maximum term in prison and but call for an independent investigation.

"And please, your Honor, stress the need to investigate how this happened so that we can hold accountable those who empowered and enabled Larry Nassar, so we can repair and, once again, believe in this wonderful sport," Raisman told the judge, who eventually sentenced Nassar to 175 of the 300 years he faces in prison. "My dream is that one day, everyone will know what the words 'me too' signify, but they will be educated and able to protect themselves from predators like Larry so that they will never, ever, ever have to say the words 'me too.'"

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 01 March 2018 18:02    PDF Print
First Male Victim Files Suit in Nassar Case
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

A male gymnast who alleges he was sexually abused by Larry Nassar after the former doctor left USA Gymnastics has become the first male victim to file suit against Nassar, USAG, Michigan State University and others in the worst sexual abuse case in sports history.

A male gymnast who alleges he was sexually abused by Larry Nassar after the former doctor left USA Gymnastics has become the first male victim to file suit against Nassar, USAG, Michigan State University and others in the worst sexual abuse case in sports history.

In one of six amended complaints filed Wednesday in federal court, Jacob Moore joined his elder sister Kamerin Moore as a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit Denhollander et al v Michigan State University et al. While delivering her victim impact statement at Nassar's first state sentencing hearing in January, Kamerin Moore, a former U.S. national team member, accused Nassar of also sexually assaulting her younger brother under the guise of medical treatment.

Moore's allegation is the first known instance of Nassar abusing a male; according to the Michigan Attorney General's Office, more than 300 people had come forward to file complaints against him as of early February. Nassar, who was stripped of his medical license in April 2017, has been sentenced to a combined 300 years in prison by three judges. He is currently serving a 60-year sentence in a maximum-security federal prison in Tucson on child pornography charges.

According to the complaint, Jacob Moore sought treatment from Nassar for shoulder pain in April 2016, when he was still 15. The lawsuit alleges that the doctor administered acupuncture to the teenager's "pubic area and in and around his genitalia ostensibly for the purpose of treating his shoulder pain."

The lawsuit also alleges that Nassar pulled down Moore's pants and exposed him to a minor female gymnast, who was also present at the time. Nassar "discussed the fact that he was exposing Plaintiff Jacob Moore to the minor female gymnast with the minor gymnast."

When Kamerin Moore spoke at the sentencing hearing, she described her brother suffering shock and emotional distress after only recently realizing there was no legitimate medical benefit to what Nassar had inflicted upon him. Her brother, she said, had scoured the Internet in vain in the hope that there was a real medical link between the pubic region and shoulder that would have justified any use of acupuncture to reduce shoulder pain.

Jacob Moore, who turns 19 on May 29, was a member of the U.S. men's junior national team from 2015-17. He is now a freshman at the University of Michigan and member of the Wolverines gymnastics team.

The assault on Moore occurred approximately 10 months after USA Gymnastics was alerted that Nassar had sexually assaulted Maggie Nichols; Nichols and her coach, Sarah Jantzi, reported him to USA Gymnastics in June 2015. USA Gymnastics now denies that Nichols or her coach ever reported she was sexually assaulted in June 2015 and now claim she only complained she was "uncomfortable" by Nassar's treatment.

USA Gymnastics claimed it reported Larry Nassar to the FBI in July 2015. Nassar announced publicly he was retiring from USA Gymnastics in September 2015. However, he continued practicing medicine for a year. He was suspended from his job by Michigan State University on August 30, 2016, one day after Rachael Denhollander reported to the MSU Police that he had sexually assaulted her in 2000, when she was a teenaged gymnast, while claiming he was performing a valid osteopathic procedure to treat her back pain. On September 12, The Indianapolis Star printed Denhollander's account of sexual assault, the news that a 2000 Olympian (since identified as Jamie Dantzscher) had filed a civil suit in California alleging assault by the former USA Gymnastics team doctor and that a third gymnast had contacted the newspaper to share a similar story of assault. The number of women reporting they had endured the same soon reached double digits, and Nassar was fired from Michigan State University on September 20, 2016.

Now a lawyer, Denhollander was the first to file a federal lawsuit against Nassar and Michigan State University in January 2017 and has since been joined by more 150 other plaintiffs. There are multiple lawsuits linked together, with some plaintiffs suing different defendants.

Nassar has defaulted in the civil suits by failing to mount a defense, but the other defendants have filed motions to dismiss. In addition to Nassar, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, the defendants include the Michigan State University Board of Trustees, multiple individuals at MSU, the Twistars USA club and its former owner, 2012 U.S. Olympic head coach John Geddert. Geddert, who announced his retirement from coaching last month after being suspended by USA Gymnastics, has been accused of ignoring reporting reports of Nassar's abuse since 1998 and even making a joke about it after allegedly witnessing Nassar sexually assaulting a minor.

The lawsuits list dozens of charges against the various defendants related to violation of civil rights, negligence and fraud. On Wednesday, the second amended complaint brought by Katherine Payne, Maureen Baum, Katherine Rasmussen, Melissa Imrie, Jane G2 Doe, and Jane G3 Doe accuse USA Gymnastics, Twistars, Geddert and Nassar of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO (18 United States Code §1964). The lawsuit alleges that through their actions, the defendants essentially formed an enterprise for mutual financial benefit and "engaged in racketeering activity to wit sex trafficking of children by fraud."

According to the complaint, "The purpose of the Enterprise in part was to create a system by which Defendant Nassar was enabled to engage in commercial sex acts with young gymnasts through a fraudulent representation that he was engaged in legitimate medical treatment. The Enterprise engaged in fraud by either knowingly or with reckless disregard of the truth, affirmatively representing to gymnasts and the public at large that Defendant Nassar was a competent and ethical physician."

The amended complaints include more than a dozen new plaintiffs, some of whom were members of the U.S. junior and senior national teams. Jane A93 Doe is a current member of the national team.

Written by Amanda Turner    Thursday, 01 March 2018 13:42    PDF Print
2021 World Gymnastics Championships Awarded to Copenhagen
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)

The 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships have been awarded to Copenhagen, Denmark, the International Gymnastics Federation announced Thursday. Pictured: The new Royal Arena, which opened in February 2017, will be the venue for the 2021 World Championships.

The 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships have been awarded to Copenhagen, Denmark, the International Gymnastics Federation announced Thursday.

The artistic gymnastics world championships were first staged in Denmark in 2006, when Aarhus played host to the event. The competition is scheduled for October 18-24, 2021.

"As Hans Christian Andersen has inspired the imagination of thousands of children around the world with his famous tales that give food for thought, I hope that these world championships will inspire the young generation by showing the values of sport," FIG President Morinari Watanabe said.

The Copenhagen worlds will take place at the city's new Royal Arena venue, a 35,000-square-meter sporting and cultural center that opened in February 2017. With a seating capacity between 13,000 to 17,000, Royal Arena has became the Danish capital's premiere staging facility for concerts and shows, already used as a tour stop for musical acts such as Metallica, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart and Céline Dion, comedians Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais, and Cirque du Soleil's Varekai. The 2017 European Short-Course Swimming Championships also took place at the arena.

2021 will mark the 50th edition of the world championships for artistic gymnastics, which were first held in Antwerp in 1903. Copenhagen was the site of the 1967 World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships as well as the 1979 European Gymnastics Championships for women, where Nadia Comăneci won her third straight all-around crown.

"It's a great achievement to be awarded the 50th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships," Danish Gymnastics Federation Anders Jacobsen said. "Not just for the Federation, but for Danish Gymnastics as a whole. An event of this format fits very well into the course and development we have for gymnastics in Denmark."

This year's world championships will take place in Doha, Qatar — the first time the event will be held in the Middle East. Worlds return to Europe in 2019, being held for the third time in Stuttgart, also the site of the 1989 and 2007 Worlds. Only Prague — site of the 1907, 1938 and 1962 Worlds — has played host as many times.

Written by Amanda Turner    Wednesday, 28 February 2018 20:47    PDF Print
USAG Seats Interim Board as Blackmun Resigns from USOC
(9 votes, average 3.44 out of 5)

An interim board of directors has been seated at USA Gymnastics — meeting today's deadline set last month by the United States Olympic Committee — but not without controversy as allegations have arisen that the troubled governing body did not follow protocol in seating one of its new directors.

Karen Golz, a retired executive from Ernst & Young, is the new interim chairwoman of the board, which was seated by telephone conference on Monday. Golz is one six independent new board members whose experience is expected to be vital in rescuing the beleaguered organization, which has been accused of fostering a culture in which physical, psychological and sexual abuse of athletes was ignored.

Golz spent 40 years at corporate giant Ernst & Young and recently retired as its global vice chair. The five independent directors joining Golz on the board are attorney Lois Elizabeth Bingham, pediatrician Dr. James Crawford-Jakubiak; sports executive Deborah Slaner Larkin of the Women's Sports Foundation; public relations consultant David Rudd and professor of social work Julie Springwater.

The sport and Olympic movement remain embroiled in controversy as fallout from the Larry Nassar tragedy has continued. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun resigned Wednesday afternoon amid massive pressure over the USOC's response to sex abuse in gymnastics and other sports, which is now the subject of at least three Congressional investigations. More than 250 women and girls have come forward since September 2016 to report that Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor and Michigan State University physician, sexually assaulted them under the guise of medical treatment. Civil lawsuits have alleged that Michigan State University was aware of the allegations against Nassar as early as 1997 and that USA Gymnastics was aware as early as 1998; both organizations have denied this in their respective motions to dismiss. Nassar was sentenced to 300 years in prison after pleading guilty in three cases involving sexual assault and child pornography.

On January 25, following the shocking victim impact statements from survivors of Nassar's sex abuse delivered at his first sentencing hearing, Blackmun issued a six-point set of directives in a letter to USA Gymnastics, which it must meet or face decertification as the governing body for the sport of the gymnastics in the United States. The entire USA Gymnastics board of directors was forced to resign within a week and an interim board seated within a month. A permanent replacement board must be seated within 12 months of the letter.

The USA Gymnastics Board of Directors is responsible for all business and affairs of USA Gymnastics through overseeing the management of USAG and its affairs. Pursuant to current bylaws, 21 individuals comprise the board: seven membership directors for the sports disciplines (two each for women's artistic gymnastics, and men's artistic gymnastics, and one each for sports acrobatics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline and tumbling); five athlete representatives (one for each discipline); five independent directors; and a chairperson of the board. The President and CEO of USA Gymnastics is chosen by and reports to the board of directors.

The new chair is expected to take a hardline approach in reviewing the performance of CEO Kerry Perry, Chief Operating Officer Ron Galimore and other key figures at USA Gymnastics, particularly in light of the unfolding controversy over one of the three seats on the interim board designated for representatives by USA Gymnastics' Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is a group of representatives from 20 national organizations that have an interest in gymnastics, including the Amateur Athletic Union, the National High School Gymnastics Association, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, YMCA, and the Special Olympics.

Like the membership directors (elected by professional members) and the athlete representatives (elected by athletes), the Advisory Council elects its own three members itself, according to USAG Bylaws, section 4.2(d):

Advisory Council Directors (three [3] Directors). The Board shall include three (3) Advisory Council Directors elected by the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Advisory Council pursuant to procedures established by the Advisory Council.

On February 11, Bobbie Cesarek (National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches - Women), Evelyn Chandler (National Association of Women's Gymnastics Judges) and Kevin White (U.S. Elite Coaches Association - Men) were elected by the Advisory Council to serve as its three directors on the interim board. According to numerous interviews, as well as email correspondence reviewed by IG, USA Gymnastics has been accused of ignoring the results of the Advisory Council's vote and replacing White with Cindy Bickman (Special Olympics) when it posted a board update on its website on February 14.

White, a coach and gym club owner from Mississippi, is also the Region 8 Men's Chairman and in the past has served as floor manager at U.S. championships, the most recent in 2012. On February 16, he informed the other Advisory Council members by email that he never resigned.

There is no mechanism for USA Gymnastics to reject a duly elected director. A director can only voluntarily resign from the position by submitting written notice to the chair (Bylaw 4.3). If a director does not meet the requirements for the position, or fails to meet the participation requirements established by the board, the director can be removed by a vote of two-thirds from the board (Bylaw 4.4). Directors may also be removed by court order, according to the laws of Indiana, where USA Gymnastics is a registered non-profit corporation.

Tom James, an attorney retained by USA Gymnastics in relation to the new board, told IG on Sunday that White voluntarily resigned when asked.

"Contrary to reports circulating on social media and elsewhere, USA Gymnastics did not remove Kevin White," James said. "Rather, given Mr. White's recent and visible service as a paid member of USA Gymnastics' events staff, USA Gymnastics requested that the Advisory Council reconsider his appointment, with an indication that the request was in no way a reflection on Mr. White. The Advisory Council did so, advising USA Gymnastics that Mr. White had graciously stepped aside as one of its Board appointees. It was thought that this resolved the matter, with Mr. White's understanding and cooperation. Subsequent characterizations of this matter that have been disseminated are unfortunately inaccurate."

Neither James nor USA Gymnastics Vice President of Communication Leslie King responded to IG's request to provide evidence of White's resignation from his duly elected position, nor the name of the person on the Advisory Council who advised USA Gymnastics that he had resigned. Likewise, neither responded to inquiries to explain what bearing any "recent and visible service as a paid member of USA Gymnastics' events staff" has on the election of a board director or where in USA Gymnastics bylaws or U.S. Olympic Committee's directives specifically prohibits someone with that background from serving on the board.

Pursuant to USAG's Bylaw 2.4(b), a person is ineligible to serve as a director if he or she is not yet 18 years of age; has been convicted of a felony; was suspended for one year or more for a doping offense; committed a Safe Sport violation resulted in suspension, termination or revocation of USAG membership; failed to successfully complete the mandatory criminal background check; or is on USA Gymnastics' list of permanently ineligible members. Directors must also be legally allowed to work in the U.S. without sponsorship, as either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The five independent directors are the only board members who must meet criteria the "standard of independence" from USA Gymnastics, as outlined in Bylaw 4.2(c); the preceding two years is specified as the recent timespan that independent directors may not be affiliated with USA Gymnastics.

The USOC's directives from January did not outline any exclusionary criteria besides the members of the board forced to resign in January not being eligible to serve on the interim board or replacement board, with the exception of the recently elected athlete representatives, who had been seated in January 2018 and were eligible for re-election.

It remains unclear why White's position as a floor manager would be considered particularly visible. Gymnastics competition floor managers oversee all floor personnel such as volunteers and score runners, the music coordinator and the announcer. Typical duties of a floor manager are ensuring that volunteers perform their assigned tasks, that media and photographers remain in designated areas, and that the audience does not interfere with the competition (such as requesting autographs or using flash photography). USA Gymnastics' taking exception to White is all the more puzzling given that other directors on the interim board have had more high-profile and more recent association with USA Gymnastics events for which they apparently received compensation, such as serving as a competition judge or speaking at the USAG National Congress.

If USA Gymnastics removed White without his voluntary and written resignation, the organization would appear to be in violation of its own bylaws regarding selection of the board, as well as the USOC's letter, which instructed the federation, "An interim board must be seated, consistent with USAG's current bylaws." The current bylaws were passed in December.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, USA Gymnastics is a non-profit organization, known as a 501(3)c, registered in the State of Indiana. According to Indiana law, specifically Indiana Code Title 23 § 17 - 12:7-10, directors of non-profit organisations may only resign in writing to the entire board of directors, the presiding officer of the board of directors, or the president/secretary of the corporation. There does not appear to be any provision for removing duly elected directors from the board prior to the board being seated in either USA Gymnastics bylaws or Indiana law.

Interim USA Gymnastics Board of Directors
Karen GolzChairwoman of the board
Athlete directors
Ivana HongWomen's artistic gymnastics
Dylan MaurerAcrobatic gymnastics
Ava GehringerRhythmic gymnastics
Steven LegendreMen's artistic gymnastics
TBDTrampoline and tumbling
Membership directors
Kittia CarpenterWomen's artistic gymnastics
Randy JepsonMen's artistic gymnastics
Stefanie KorepinRhythmic gymnastics
Claudia KretschmerWomen's gymnastics
Scott LineberryTrampoline and tumbling
Bob MeierSports acrobatics
Justin SpringMen's artistic gymnastics
Advisory Council directors
Cindy BickmanSpecial Olympics
Bobbie CesarekNational Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches (Women)
Evelyn ChandlerNational Association of Women's Gymnastics Judges
Independent directors
Lois Elizabeth BinghamGeneral counsel for global automotive parts supplier Yazaki North America; board member for Just the Beginning Foundation; previously served on the American Bar Association's Commission on Women Bias Interrupters Working Group and on the board of National Tots and Teens, Inc.
James Crawford-Jakubiak Pediatrician and medical director for the Center for Child Protection; member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its section on Child Abuse and Neglect
Karen Golz(Chair) Recently retired as a global vice chair of Ernst & Young; 40 years with the company in positions that involved ethics and independence, risk management, compliance, financial reporting and controls, and general management
Deborah Slaner LarkinChief advocacy officer (2017) and CEO (2014-16) for the Women's Sports Foundation; past executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association's Foundation
David RuddFormer Chicago Tribune journalist who runs a communications and public relations firm in Chicago; board member for Prevent Child Abuse America; treasurer for the Black Public Relations Society
Julie SpringwaterAdjunct professor at Boston University's School of Social Work; chair of governance for the Child Welfare League of America

Written by Amanda Turner    Tuesday, 27 February 2018 11:31    PDF Print
'Shocked' Van Hoof Mulls Options After Dismissal from British Gymnastics
(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Five months after he was suspended by British Gymnastics, former men's coach Eddie Van Hoof says he may go to court after he was fired last week by the federation over what it calls "irreconcilable differences." Pictured: Eddie Van Hoof and Nile Wilson following his bronze medal-winning performance on high bar at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Five months after he was suspended by British Gymnastics, former men's coach Eddie Van Hoof says he may go to court after he was fired last week by the federation over what it calls "irreconcilable differences."

The technical director of the British men's program since 2005, Van Hoof was suspended on November 29 amid allegations of misconduct. However, British Gymnastics never detailed the allegations against Van Hoof and did not cite any misconduct by Van Hoof in its public statement concerning his dismissal on Thursday.

British Gymnastics said in a statement that "the situation had become untenable."

"It became clear that there are irreconcilable differences between Eddie and British Gymnastics regarding the leadership, conduct and culture of elite coaching for our sport," the federation said.

According to The Guardian, Van Hoof stated that British Gymnastics told him he was being terminated because of insubordination toward British Gymnastics Performance Director James Thomas, "bullying" against an unspecified employee and "combative language or behavior" toward unspecified gymnasts. Van Hoof, 61, said he believes the real reason for his dismissal was because of his stance during the athlete contract dispute last year.

Van Hoof has been credited as the architect of the British men's phenomenal success over the past 10 years. Since 2009, only the Japanese and Chinese men have won more medals than the British men at the Olympic Games and world championships, and the British men amassed more medals overall at the past two Olympics with eight, compared with six each for China and Japan. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 New Year Honors for his contribution to the sport of gymnastics.

"The news of my dismissal is unexpected, undeserved and comes as a crushing blow after so many years of unwavering dedication," Van Hoof said.

Eddie Van Hoof at the 2016 Olympics

In a statement, British Gymnastics thanked Van Hoof for his contributions and wished him future success.

"It was best for all sides to bring matters to a close," British Gymnastics said.

However, the matter may not be over for Van Hoof, who told The Daily Telegraph he is weighing his legal options. He said in a statement that he was "shocked and dismayed" by his dismissal. British Gymnastics appointed a barrister to conduct the investigation into allegations against him, but according to Van Hoof, he was never allowed to see the report except for a brief summary.

Van Hoof said he believes the true reason he was dismissed was that he sided with the athletes against British Gymnastics during last year's contract dispute. He denies any allegations of misconduct, which he said were raised only after the issue with the contracts began.

"The concerns began to surface last August," Van Hoof stated, "shortly after I raised objections to the new world-class performance athlete agreements, which have rightly been a cause of widespread concern for leaving our leading British athletes open to exploitation. I stand by my support of our athletes on the issue of contracts, and I stand by my own conduct and professionalism during my time with British Gymnastics."

The national team members are required to sign the World Class Performance Programme contracts in order to receive funding from UK Sport, but many held out, including double Olympic champion Max Whitlock and the rest of the 2016 men's Olympic team. In August, the gymnasts were warned they had 72 hours to sign the contracts or risk having their funding cutoff. But the holdout continued as parents and agents expressed concern that the gymnasts were left open to financial exploitation by the federation by the "Individual Athlete Plan" portion of the contract. British Gymnastics was accused of wanting too much control over the athletes and not providing financial transparency. After multiple missed deadlines and continued negotiations, the majority of the contracts were reportedly signed in late December.

"My main concern about the agreements was the way in which they were presented to athletes," Van Hoof told The Guardian. "There was a widespread expectation that athletes would simply sign the new contracts without question. However, the athletes had received very little explanation about the content and the heavy legal terminology caused confusion about the meaning and implications of the agreements. After a long and unblemished career, I believe it may be more than a coincidence that a disciplinary process commenced so soon after I raised concerns around management issues at British Gymnastics, including the handling of the contracts."

Van Hoof told the newspaper that he cooperated fully with the investigation, giving hours of interviews with the independent investigator, but he was not given details of specific accusations against him.

"These allegations are basic outlines," Van Hoof said. "There is no clear detail or supporting examples, which make them hard to examine or challenge. Nonetheless, these accusations in no way match my own recollection of my behavior or my contribution to British Gymnastics over the last decade."

According to a spokesman for British Gymnastics, the governing body denied that its decision to suspend and investigate Van Hoof was in any way related to the issue with contracts, but did indicate his stance on the issue contributed to his dismissal.

"It is inaccurate to suggest that Eddie's suspension or the investigation were a reaction to Eddie objecting to the World Class Performance Athlete Agreements," the spokesman said. "However, his comments in relation to the agreements are a reflection of some of the irreconcilable differences between Eddie and British Gymnastics that resulted in his dismissal. British Gymnastics would not support a contract that exploits its athletes."

Born August 22, 1956, in Stainforth, South Yorkshire, Van Hoof was a member of the British national team from the late 1970s to 1985. He began the sport at around 12 years old at Stopsley High School in Luton, Bedfordshire, where he later trained at the Luton Gymnastics Club. He later studied physical education at Borough Road College in London, continuing his training at the famed Hendon Gymnastics Club. He competed at three consecutive world championships from 1979 to 1983 and competed at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where the British men finished ninth. He retired the following year to begin his national coaching career.

Van Hoof was the personal coach of Neil Thomas, the first British gymnast of the modern era to win medals at major international competitions. Van Hoof coached Thomas to Britain's first European championships medal, a bronze on vault in 1990. At the same competition, Thomas also debuted the element he developed with Van Hoof, a double-twisting layout front on floor exercise, known as the Thomas in the Code of Points.

From 1908 to 2008, the British men had won just three medals on the world stage: a silver in the all-around from Walter Tysall at the 1908 Olympic Games in London and silver medals on floor exercise from Thomas at the 1993 and 1994 World Championships. Great Britain was only 15th as a team at the 2007 World Championships, failing to send a full team to the Olympics in Beijing, where Louis Smith won the bronze medal on pommel horse.

Since Dan Keatings all-around silver medal at the 2009 Worlds, however, the British men have been a dominant force in the sport, amassing 12 world championship medals and eight Olympic medals. Only the Japanese men (40 medals) and Chinese (39 medals) have been more successful. Over the past 20 years, several programs have suddenly begun to produce individual stars, such as Brazil and the Netherlands, only the British men have become an actual powerhouse, demonstrated by winning team and all-around medals at both the world and Olympic Games.

Notably, Great Britain's eight medals (two golds, two silvers and four bronzes) won in London (three) and in Rio (five) are more than the Chinese men or Japanese men, who won six medals each across both Olympics. Great Britain has surpassed traditional powers including the United States, which has won 17 medals (13 world and four Olympic), Russia with 16 (10 world and six Olympic) and Germany (six world and 10 Olympic) from 2009-2017.

Additonally, since 2008, the British men have taken the team and all-around titles at every Junior European Championships, winning five consecutive occasions. Giarnni Regini-Moran was the star of the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, winning three golds and two bronzes. The British men's ability to develop so many talented juniors who easily move into the senior ranks has been a major factor in the team's success, foreign experts have noted.

Following Great Britain's record performance for men and women at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, UK Sports' Director of Performance Simon Timson credited Van Hoof and women's coach Amanda Reddin for creating a "clearly-defined technical curriculum" to help coaches train gymnasts to reach the international level. The thousands of coaches who had been trained according to the standard was a factor to UK Sport naming British Gymnastics its national governing body of the year in 2015.

In addition to his MBE, the Shropshire-based Van Hoof was given double honors as UK Coach of the Year and High-Performance Coach of the Year at the 2016 UK Sport Awards, presented by Princess Anne. In 1992, Van Hoof was recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) with the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy, only the second gymnast to be awarded the honor following Czech legend Věra Čáslavská in 1989.

He is married to prominent Canadian coach Carol-Angela Orchard (whose protégées include Olympians Monica Covacci, Luisa Portocarrero, Michelle Conway, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, as well as current UCLA star Peng-Peng Lee), who relocated to Great Britain following the 2008 Olympic Games.


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