Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

In international sports, 2018 was a year of courage and cowardice and common sense in seeing through a con.

And, as usual, it was a year of athletes of all colors, backgrounds, nations, shapes and sizes rising above the inanity, craven callousness and amorality of the old, white men who run global sports.

To which one can only say this:  Thanks, Yuzuru Hanyu and Simone Biles, thanks Ester Ledecká and Chloe Kim, thanks Eliud Kipchoge and Team Shuster. . .thanks to you and more for the achievements and goodwill that made us remember that sport, for all its ugly, scandalous warts, can show humankind at its most attractive.

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Damning report on USOC leadership in Nassar abuse scandal should lead nearly entire USOC board to resign

Damning report on USOC leadership in Nassar abuse scandal should lead nearly entire USOC board to resign

All but one member of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Board of Directors must resign.

A new board must separate the position of athlete ombudsman from the USOC paid staff, so athletes can feel their grievances, large and small, get an independent hearing.

USOC sponsors, not Congress, should lead the drive for those changes in the aftermath of a damning report about the way USOC leadership mishandled the horrific Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

But the board could start the process of replacing itself at its meeting today in California.

Nassar was sentenced Jan. 24 to 40-to-175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes after some 200 of his victims courageously testified against him in court. But that testimony did not fill in all the blanks about the case.

In the months that have followed, there remained many critical and unanswered questions about how the USOC leadership had handled - and is handling - the worst and most gruesome events in the history of Olympic sports in the United States.

The answers, searingly critical of the USOC, came this week in the report issued by Ropes & Gray, the Boston-based international law firm whom the USOC Board of Directors hired to conduct an independent investigation.

The report’s evidence that USA Gymnastics and its former chief executive, Steve Penny, acted unconscionably already had been well documented.  Its evidence about the USOC’s utter failure to act was new – and even more awful than many suspected.

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A long, winding road to glory for French pairs skaters James and Cipres

A long, winding road to glory for French pairs skaters James and Cipres

Before they retire from competitive figure skating, French pairs team Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres should skate a program either to “The Long and Winding Road” or to “Truckin,” which includes the famous phrase, “what a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Or maybe one program to each. After all, the Beatles’ song title and the words in the Grateful Dead song cover a big part of their story, both individually and together.

Their lives’ itineraries have encompassed significant stops in Scarborough, Ont.; Bermuda; Great Britain; Melun, France; Paris; Moscow; Coral Gables and Wesley, Chapel, Fla. And that doesn’t count all the places where they have competed, a list expanded this week to include their first joint competitive visit to Vancouver, B.C., one of the most significant stops in nine seasons as a team on the ice.

James, 31, and Cipres, 27, made it to Vancouver by qualifying for the Grand Prix Final for the first time by winning both their Grand Prix “regular season” events. Those were their first victories in 14 appearances on the annual circuit.

Not only that, but they also are likely to win just the second medal by a French pair in the final, which takes place Friday and Saturday. And it would be no surprise if they topped the silver earned by compatriots Sarah Abitbol and Stephane Bernadis in the 2000 Grand Prix Final.

And, in a season of significant transition on the global pairs scene, a world title seems within the grasp of this team whose world bronze last season was their first medal at a global championship in two Olympics and seven world championships together.

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