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USOC names new chief executive months after sex abuse scandal

(Reuters) – The U.S. Olympic Committee named Sarah Hirshland as its new chief executive on Thursday, months after its former CEO quit for medical reasons amid criticism stemming from a sex abuse scandal involving former U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Hirshland, currently the chief commercial officer for the U.S. Golf Association, takes over from Susanne Lyons, who has served as acting CEO since February after former CEO Scott Blackmun resigned following months of criticism of the USOC.

“I’m thrilled that Sarah has accepted the position and thankful to the diverse slate of candidates who participated in our process to hire the very best person for this important responsibility,” USOC Chairman Larry Probst said in a statement.

The Colorado Springs, Colorado-based USOC cited health issues related to prostate cancer as the reason for Blackmun’s departure.

Nassar last year pleaded guilty to molesting female athletes under the guise of medical treatment in incidents dating back to the 1990s and was sentenced to life in prison. The scandal sparked condemnation from Olympic fans, athletes and committee officials.

Authorities said Nassar victimized more than 260 women and girls, including several Olympic gold medalists. Nearly 200 of them gave testimonies during a sentencing hearings in Michigan earlier this year.

The sex scandal also prompted the entire board of directors at USA Gymnastics, the sport’s U.S. governing body, to resign, along with the president and athletic director at Michigan State University, where Nassar also worked.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas

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