USA Gymnastics chief steps down after criticism of anti-Nike tweet
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USA Gymnastics CEO Mary Bono resigned on Tuesday after she was criticized by many, including Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, for a derisive tweet about Nike.

In a statement first reported by CNN, Bono defended her tweet, a since-deleted message that contained a photo of Bono crossing out Nike's logo on a pair of shoes in protest of the brand's support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his protests against police brutality during performances of the national anthem.

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"My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization," Bono wrote in her statement.

"With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his First Amendment right to kneel. I exercised mine," she added. "I regret that at the time I didn't better clarify my feelings. That one tweet has been made the litmus test of my reputation over almost two decades of public service."

Bono was criticized by many on social media over the tweet, including Biles, who knocked Bono for attacking her top sponsor at a time when the organization "needed a smarter" leader to help the organization recover from recent scandals over widespread sexual abuse. 

Bono's tweet was posted in September, weeks before she was announced interim CEO of USA Gymnastics. Still, backlash over the former GOP congresswoman's tweet led to her resignation just two days after Biles's criticism.

USA Gymnastics faced months of controversy after hundreds of women came forward with allegations that former team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused them during medical examinations. Biles was one of several Olympic gymnasts who came forward with allegations against Nassar, which culminated in the resignation of USA Gymnastics's former CEO, Kerry Perry.

Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison for sexual abuse after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexual assault of minors.

Bono was one of many who took to social media to display their defaced or destroyed Nike gear on social media following the brand's announcement that Kaepernick would be the face of its newest ad campaign. Despite protests against Kaepernick's selection, the company's stock shares surged, closing at a record high following the ad's release.

-- Updated 4:23 p.m.