US gymnastics chief quits after criticism

Mary Bono

The newly appointed head of USA Gymnastics resigned just four days after being named to the job following stinging criticism of her appointment by Olympic stars Simone Biles and Alexandra Raisman.

Former Republican politician Mary Bono, who had only been revealed as interim chief of the embattled governing body on Friday, said she was quitting over "personal attacks" that made her position untenable.

"It is with profound regret, coupled with a deep love for the sport of gymnastics and respect for those who aspire to be great gymnasts, that I today tendered my resignation as the Interim CEO of USA Gymnastics," Bono said in a statement on Tuesday.

"My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organisation."

Bono's future in her new role had looked increasingly precarious after criticism by both Biles and Raisman following her appointment.

The 56-year-old executive drew the ire of Olympic superstar Biles over a tweet posted by Bono last month in which she was critical of apparel maker Nike following the company's ad campaign featuring ex-NFL star Colin Kaepernick.

Bono posted a photo of herself blacking out a Nike logo on a golf shoe as she took part in a charity golf tournament to honor members of the US military.

In response, the Nike-sponsored Biles tweeted on Saturday: "*mouth drop* ... don't worry, it's not like we needed a smarter USA gymnastics president, or any sponsors or anything."

Raisman, meanwhile, blasted the decision to hire Bono on Monday in a series of strongly worded posts on Twitter that drew attention to the executive's previous work with law firm Faegre Baker Daniels.

Raisman alleged that the legal company had advised USA Gymnastics during the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, asserting that the company had helped "cover up" the former team doctor's crimes before they erupted into public view.

"Survivors, current gymnasts, families, coaches, gymnastics community & fans deserve better," wrote Raisman, one of more than 250 athletes abused by Nassar, who was jailed for life earlier this year.

Raisman, an Olympic gold medallist in 2012 and 2016, is suing both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee over the scandal.

In her resignation statement on Tuesday, Bono defended her work with Faegre Baker Daniels as well as her criticism of Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the US national anthem in order to draw attention to racial injustice has been criticised by some as disrespectful to the military and unpatriotic.

 

 

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