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USA Gymnastics Interim President Mary Bono is done after four days on the job.
Bono, 57, was named the organization’s interim president and chief executive officer on Friday. She had an eventful weekend in which two Olympians called her out for separate issues.
She announced via a statement Tuesday afternoon she was giving her resignation “in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization.”
Mary Bono is OUT as @USAGym interim president and CEO. In exit stmt, she defends her tweet marking out @Nike logo on her sneakers: “With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine” pic.twitter.com/qS0uaGdXyl
— Sarah Boxer (@Sarah_Boxer) October 16, 2018
It’s the third CEO for USA Gymnastics in less than a year. Bono, a former U.S. Representative in California, took over for Kerry Perry, who submitted her resignation a month ago. Perry served for nine months.
The organization is still trying to get out of its own way after the Larry Nassar scandal. Elite Development Coordinator Mary Lee Tracy was asked to resign in August after three days and Rhonda Fein, head of the women’s program, left on unknown terms in May.
Bono voices regret over what she could have brought to USAG
Bono served as a Republican member of the House of Representatives for 15 years and is a former gymnast who trained in multiple clubs for more than a decade. In announcing Bono’s interim status, USA Gymnastics board chair Karen Golz said she will “move the organization forward.”
In her resignation letter, Bono said she would have brought the “angst and anger of my own story” to the job and a “fire in the belly” to ensure no one would have to choose between abuse or ambition.
“A young aspiring gymnast who witnessed first-hand the assaulting behavior of a coach; watched peers who acquiesced in it move ahead while those who didn’t were left behind, and myself stayed silent — perhaps the norm then but very troubling to me this day,” she said.
Simone Biles sounds first alarm regarding Nike tweet
Less than a day into her leadership, a tweet from September was easily uncovered on her Twitter account. It came days after Nike announced Colin Kaepernick the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” advertising campaign.
Bono competed in a charity golf tournament and “luckily” had a black marker in her bag to cross out the Nike logo on her golf shoes.
Simone Biles, one of the sport’s biggest stars who is also sponsored by Nike, took issue with it.
don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything https://t.co/cYQizcjywn
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) October 13, 2018
Bono responded to Biles’ tweet, saying it was not how she would approach her position with USA Gymnastics, and referenced it in her resignation.
“With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel,” she said. “I exercised mine: to mark over on my own golf shoes, the logo of the company sponsoring him for ‘believing in something even if it means sacrificing everything’ — while at a tournament for families who have lost a member of the armed services (including my brother-in-law, a Navy SEAL) who literally ‘sacrificed everything.'”
Bono said it was an emotional reaction to Nike’s use of the phrase and she regrets “that at the time I didn’t better clarify my feelings.”
“That one tweet has now been made the litmus test of my reputation over almost two decades of public service.”
Aly Raisman criticizes the decision to hire Bono
The arguably bigger issue that got little air time in Bono’s resignation letter was in regards to Aly Raisman’s concern, which she voiced Monday afternoon on Twitter.
My teammates & I reported Nassar's abuse to USAG in 2015. 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?
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) October 15, 2018
Bono worked as a principal at the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, which worked with Nassar to provide “false excuses” and cover up why the USAG team doctor wasn’t at big events, according to an Indianapolis Star investigation.
Raisman said the hiring was the “same corrupt decisions” USAG makes continuously. That includes previous hirings of those who have defended Nassar.
“I proudly stand behind my body of work at Faegre Baker Daniels,” she said, “and appreciated how much the law firm supported my devoting considerable time to the cause of addiction prevention, treatment and recovery.”
USA Gymnastics said in a statement that Bono worked in a different division at the global company than the one that worked with Nassar.
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