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US Olympic committee head quits after sex abuse scandal

The head of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), Scott Blackmun, stepped down from his post due to medical reasons, the association said Wednesday, following sharp criticism stemming from the sexual abuse scandal that its employees were involved in.

“Given Scott’s current health situation, we have mutually agreed it is in the best interest of both Scott and the USOC that we identify new leadership so that we can immediately address the urgent initiatives ahead of us,” Chairman Larry Probst said in a statement.

“The USOC is at a critical point in its history. The important work that Scott started needs to continue and will require especially vigorous attention in light of Larry Nassar’s decades-long abuse of athletes affiliated with USA Gymnastics."

Nassar, 54, a former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor accused of molesting dozens of young female athletes admitted to the charges in December last year.

He was also sued by more than 125 women and girls alleging abuse, including Olympic gold medalists Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.

Pleading guilty in Michigan’s Ingham County Circuit Court to seven charges of criminal sexual assault, Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. 

Allegations against Nassar reportedly go back to the 1990s, but the USA Gymnastics Federation fired him in 2015, when they claim to have been made aware of the abuses.

Amid a storm of condemnations and criticism toward the association for not taking the necessary precautions in time, Blackmun's resignation came just weeks after USOC board members defended Blackmun and resisted calls from two senators for his resignation over the Nassar case.

“Serving the USOC and its many stakeholders and working with our board, our professional staff and many others who support the Olympic and Paralympic movements has not only been immensely rewarding, it has been an honor and the highlight of my professional life,” Blackmun said after his resignation, adding that he has confidence that the person taking over the post will also lead Team USA successfully.