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USAG cuts ties with brand-new medical director

One day after being named by USA Gymnastics to the newly created position of director of sports medicine and science, Edward Nyman has been released by the organization, the latest in a series of hiring missteps by the national governing body of the sport, which has been reeling since the sexual assault scandal involving disgraced Team USA doctor Larry Nassar.

"Dr. Nyman's employment will not continue due to a conflict of interest, and we will immediately renew our search to identify a qualified individual to lead our sports medicine and research efforts," USAG said Tuesday in one-sentence statement.

Just a day earlier, in a lengthy statement announcing Nyman's hiring, USAG president Li Li Leung touted Nyman's extensive credentials.

"Making this hire early on in my tenure was important because it is critical for our becoming more athlete-centric," Leung said.

"Ed's collective professional experiences make him uniquely suited for this role. He is a former gymnast and coach; educated in athletic training, biomechanics and exercise science; and has conducted and published impactful sports medicine and biomechanics research," Leung added.

Monday's announcement of Nyman's hiring brought an instant reaction from the gymnastics community, with many women who have identified themselves as survivors of Nassar's abuse stating their discomfort with a male director of sports medicine being in charge of athlete care.

"Competing elite gymnasts are stakeholders. A number of them were abused by Larry Nassar. None of them were consulted about this pick. None of my clients abused by Nassar want anything to do with male physicians," Irvine, California, attorney John Manly tweeted Monday.

Manly represents more than 200 women who say they were sexually assaulted by Nassar.

Four-time world champion Simone Biles, who also says she was sexually abused by Nassar, tweeted Monday:

When asked Tuesday to expand on its original statement and whether the decision to sever ties with Nyman was related to any backlash over his hiring, USAG responded with the following:

"To provide clarity, the decision to terminate Dr. Nyman's employment was not based on any comments made on social media platforms or anywhere else. In accordance with our employment policies, we cannot comment further on this personnel matter."

Nyman earned his bachelor of science degree in exercise science, with a concentration in athletic training, from Ursinus College. He completed his Ph.D. in exercise science with a concentration in biomechanics at the University of Toledo. Nyman finished his post-doctoral training as a research fellow in the Division of Biomedical Physics for the United States Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

The hiring and almost immediate parting of ways with Nyman is simply the latest public relations gaffe by USA Gymnastics and Leung, who was appointed president in February.

Earlier this month, during an interview with NBC's "Today Show," Leung, herself a former competitive gymnast, described her own experiences as a patient of Nassar.

"I was seen by Larry Nassar myself, but I was not abused by him, and the reason why I wasn't abused by him is because my coach was by my side when he saw me. I was seen by him in a public setting and so I understand what the setting needs to be like in order to ensure safety for our athletes," Leung said.

A number of Nassar survivors criticized Leung's comments as insensitive. Nassar abused dozens of girls and women, penetrating them with ungloved hands and covering them or positioning his body in such a way that he was able to abuse gymnasts and disguise his actions, even from other adults who were in the treatment room.

Leung issued an apology on Twitter, an hour before her "Today Show" interview aired in full, writing: "I understand how my comment seems insensitive to the survivors and their families, and I apologize. My intent was not to diminish what they've been through. I should have clarified that my experience was completely different from theirs and it is wrong to suggest I could have a solution based on my experience alone. I cannot know all necessary steps to take until I hear their stories, and hope they will have a dialogue with us regarding athlete safety and well-being going forward."

USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in December. Monday marked the deadline for attorneys representing Nassar survivors and others to file claims against the governing body on behalf of their clients.

Leung is the fourth person to hold the position of president and CEO of USAG in the past two years. Steve Penny resigned under pressure in March 2017 and is facing charges of tampering with evidence in the Nassar case. His replacement, Kerry Perry, lasted less than a year, stepping down under heavy scrutiny from the U.S. Olympic Committee in September.

The organization then turned to former U.S. Rep. Mary Bono on an interim basis in October, but she resigned after just four days, saying she felt her affiliation would be a "liability" after a social media post by Bono criticizing Nike and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew widespread scrutiny within the gymnastics community.

Nassar, 55, is serving a 60-year federal prison sentence on child pornography convictions and won't begin serving his 40-to-125-year state sentence until that federal prison term expires. He is incarcerated in Sumterville, Florida, northwest of Orlando.