Under-fire interim US gymnastics chief quits

LOS ANGELES • The newly appointed head of USA Gymnastics resigned on Tuesday, just 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 was appointed as interim chief of the embattled governing body last 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," she said in a statement.

"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 concerning her appointment.

The 56-year-old executive drew the ire of Olympic superstar Biles after the surfacing of a tweet she posted last month that 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.

Raisman, meanwhile, on Monday blasted the decision to hire Bono 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.

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.

"I proudly stand behind my body of work at Faegre Baker Daniels," Bono said. "With respect to Mr Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine: to mark over on my own golf shoes, the logo of the company sponsoring him."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2018, with the headline 'Under-fire interim US gymnastics chief quits'. Print Edition | Subscribe