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The first meeting between incoming U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland and gold medal-winning gymnast Aly Raisman, the face and voice of the Olympic sex abuse scandal that has enveloped American sports, did not go particularly well.
As soon as the two-hour Senate hearing on Olympic sex abuse ended Tuesday evening, Raisman said she moved toward Hirshland, seated no more than 20 feet from her in spectator seating, to introduce herself.
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“I said, ‘Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me,’ and she kind of ignored me, but I was like, ‘excuse me,’” Raisman said after the hearing. “So she looked at me because I wasn’t going to let her leave. I said, ‘I’d really like to introduce myself to you.’ She’s like, ‘I’ve been instructed I can’t talk to you.’ So I said, ‘You can’t just say hi to me?’ She said no and then rushed out.”
Hirshland, who takes over as USOC CEO on Aug. 20, had no official duties at Tuesday’s hearing. It was her first public appearance at an Olympic-related event since being named CEO earlier this month.
When word of Raisman’s criticism reached Hirshland through a USOC spokeswoman, Hirshland immediately emailed Raisman an apology, saying it all was a misunderstanding and that she looked forward to meeting her soon.
“It was a sincere apology,” Hirshland said later over the phone, “and my sincere ask for a redo.”