SafeSport ‘evaluating’ whether to suspend Anna Li

The U.S. Center for SafeSport is evaluating whether to suspend Anna Li, a former UCLA All-American gymnast and 2012 U.S. Olympic team alternate, for allegedly trying to intimidate a young athlete at a recent competition, according to a U.S. Center for SafeSport email obtained by the Southern California News Group.

An attorney for Riley Milbrandt, a former athlete at Legacy Elite Gymnastics, the club owned and operated by Li’s family in Aurora, Illinois, recently asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to place Li, a Legacy coach and member of USA Gymnastics influential athletes council, on an interim-measure suspension. Li allegedly “aggressively” pointed her finger at Milbrandt and took other actions that made the gymnast uncomfortable during a meet last month, according to U.S. Center for SafeSport documents and interviews.

Li and her mother and fellow Legacy coach Jiani Wu, an Olympic medalist for China and former USA Gymnastics national team coach, have been under investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport since August 2019 for allegedly abusing young female gymnasts at Legacy, according to SafeSport documents and interviews.

Another Legacy coach, Rebecca Thone, is also under investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport for physical and verbal abuse, according to center documents.

Corrina Milbrandt, Riley’s mother, was an early whistleblower in the Li and Wu case.

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“If you take retaliation seriously, (Li) should be suspended,” Corrina Milbrandt said in a telephone interview. “(U.S. Center for SafeSport) know how these coaches work. They’re bullies. They bully all the time.”

Russell Prince, an attorney for Li and Wu, did not respond to a request for comment.

At least 30 complaints have been filed with the U.S. Center for SafeSport since July 2019 in which gymnasts and their parents allege that Li disparaged gymnasts in front of their peers on a “daily basis,” regularly called girls fat, pressured injured athletes to train or compete, and threatened to make negative comments to college coaches recruiting them if they struggled in training. Gymnasts also allege they were unable to train or compete because of injuries or illness, or appeared in Li’s opinion overweight, according to interviews with multiple gymnasts and parents and U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Gymnastics documents.

Wu on multiple occasions pulled young gymnasts by their hair when she was dissatisfied with their training, including at least one occasion when Wu allegedly pulled a girl by her ponytail all the way to the ground, according to interviews and multiple complaints submitted to U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Gymnastics.

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Despite the severity of the allegations, the U.S. Center for SafeSport previously rejected a request from parents that Li and Wu be placed on interim suspension, a measure with which SafeSport can suspend individuals as a protective measure pending the outcome of the investigation, according to documents.

Individuals placed on interim suspension can then request a hearing within 72 hours.

As of last month, the U.S. Center for SafeSport also had not interviewed Li or Wu.

In requesting Li immediately be placed on interim suspension, Judie Saunders, an attorney for the Milbrandts, wrote in a …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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