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Mary Bono. (Getty Images)
Mary Bono. (Getty Images)

Short tenure

Interim CEO of USA Gymnastics abruptly resigns amid criticism from Simone Biles and Aly Raisman

By WITW Staff on October 16, 2018

The woman who took over as the interim CEO of USA Gymnastics last week abruptly resigned from the post on Tuesday after being harshly criticized by two of the sport’s biggest stars. Former U.S. Representative Mary Bono, the second CEO of the embattled group to leave the post in the last two months, said in a statement that “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. My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization.”

Bono found herself hot water after posting an incendiary remark about Nike on Twitter last month that came to people’s attention within the last week. She was playing in a charity golf tournament to benefit the armed forces and was given a pair of Nike shoes. She posted a photo of herself crossing out the company’s famous swoosh logo accompanied by the quip, “Luckily I had a marker in my bag, too,” a reference to the brand’s much talked about commercial featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has become a polarizing figure for kneeling during the national anthem. Bono is a Republican and conservatives have largely been critical of Kaepernick’s anthem protest and protested Nike for featuring him in its new ad campaign.

Bono apologized for the tweet and deleted it, but she came under heavy fire from Biles and others who pointed out that Nike is a major U.S. Olympics sponsor and it would be unwise to wantonly alienate the company. Others also criticized her for taking issue with the concept of athletes using their voices, something that didn’t happen for too long in the world of gymnastics and allowed disgraced former doctor Larry Nassar to prey on young athletes for years.

Aly Raisman was critical of Bono’s appointment as interim CEO on the grounds that she formerly worked for a law firm, Faegre Baker Daniels, that represented USA Gymnastics and helped the organization keep the Nassar allegations from exploding into public view. “My teammates & I reported Nassar’s abuse to USAG in 2015,” Raisman wrote on Twitter. “We now know USOC & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (Mary Bono’s firm) were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?”

In a statement, the law firm denied helping cover up the Nassar allegations and said that it actually helped bring them to light. USA Gymnastics said Bono’s work at the firm never touched on the USA Gymnastics case.

In a heart-wrenching pair of trials earlier this year, Nassar was convicted of multiple counts of criminal sexual assault and was slapped with two separate sentences that will ensure he spends the rest of his life in prison. Below, read Bono’s full resignation statement.

Read the full story at CNN

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