Valeri Liukin steps down as as coordinator of U.S. women’s gymnastics team
Valeri Liukin resigned Friday from his post as coordinator for the United States women’s gymnastics team, a program reeling from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.
Liukin, a two-time Olympic gold medalist with the Soviet team and father of U.S. Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin, had served in the role since the retirement of longtime coach Martha Karolyi in September 2016.
“I was truly looking forward to trying to turn this program around and bring success to our country and the gymnastics community,” Liukin said in a statement. “But the present climate causes me, and more importantly my family, far too much stress, difficulty and uncertainty.
“It is time to move on in a different direction, at least for now. I wish the coaches and athletes continued success, and I stand ready to encourage and support all of them from a different vantage point.”
USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.
Soon after her father’s announcement on Friday, Nastia Liukin tweeted simply, “family is forever,” along with a heart emoji.
Earlier this week, the organization confirmed it has received resignations from all of its board members, in response to one of several demands laid out by U.S. Olympic Committee leaders last week in the aftermath of the Nassar scandal.
Nassar, a former Olympic team doctor, has been sentenced for criminal sexual conduct and for possession of child pornography and is in court again this week to be sentenced for additional sexual assault crimes. A judge in Eaton County, Mich., said the number of women who claim to have been molested by Nassar has reached 265. More than 180 of those women have given impact statements during his sentencing hearings.
Liukin has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but former U.S. national team member Mattie Larson singled him out during her impact statement for adding to a negative culture within the program.
“It truly bothers me that one of the adults that treated me this way, making me feel completely invisible, is the new national team coordinator, Valeri Liukin,” Larson said on Jan. 23. “It troubles me that he is now in that position, and I hope for the sake of current and future national team members, that he has changed.”
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