After the much-publicized trial of Doctor of Gymnastics Larry Nassar in 2018, in which hundreds of women and girls told disturbing stories of Nassar sexually assaulting and taking advantage of young athletes, the world of professional gymnastics began to look great. darker behind the scenes of the public eye.
Today, Hall of Fame gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi and his wife Martha Karolyi face accusations of mental and physical abuse on the young gymnasts they have coached since the 1960s. These accusations give us a deeper insight into the horror of the treatment that many of the young female gymnasts we know and love today once went through. Let’s take a closer look at the horrific details.
Charges of a new book
Bela Karolyi and Martha Karolyi have been considered some of the most notable names in American gymnastics history, with the Karolyis being credited with the success of USA Gymnastics for over a decade. However, since Larry Nassar’s arrest and trial, the two have also not been exempted from troubling allegations for their role in harming the young athletes they have coached over the years.
Bela Karolyi and Martha Karolyi face new allegations after recently published book titled Nadia si Securitatea written by Romanian author Stejarel Olaru has been released. Inside the book, author Olaru details the training of specifically Romanian gymnast Nadia Comanenci, one of the many victims of the Karolyis and the first gymnast to score a perfect ten at the 1976 Olympics.
Stejarel Olaru has written all about how Nadia Comaneci, who was Bela Karolyi’s first prodigy and her path to America and ultimately USA Gymnastics, was tortured mentally and physically by Bela and Martha Karolyi in various ways such as starvation. to the point of developing eating disorders, slapping, denial of medical attention and many more.
What was the abuse like?
The abuse allegations come from old files of the Securitate, Romania’s communist-era secret police. Olaru detailed: “Starving gymnasts was a regular practice of the Karolyis. Girls ate toothpaste in the evening before going to bed – that’s how they got hungry. In some cases, they talked about the drinking water from the toilet tank in secret, as they were often not allowed to drink the water ”.
Olaru continued, “Some have ended up suffering from bulimia. They became adept at stealing food, which they hid in places they thought no one would find, like the hem of the curtain ”. Comaneci even said she was slapped and starved for up to three days in a row. An interview with the book also alleged that Bela Karolyi would eat large meals in front of starving athletes to torment them.
Comaneci, who is now 59 and lives in Oklahoma, announced to Times concerning the book and the accusations of Bela and Martha Karolyi that “I was aware of [Olaru’s] project and its research on the files of the secret police and informants. I told him that all my memory is in the book I wrote, “Letters to a Young Gymnast”. Nothing more to add. Life goes on”.
When AFP news asked Bela Karolyi for comments on the charges against him, he replied: “By nature I am never satisfied. It’s never enough, never. My gymnasts are the best prepared in the world. And they win. It’s all that matters “.
Currently, the Karolyi are already facing lawsuits in America over abuse charges and have turned a blind eye to Larry Nassar despite knowing that he sexually assaulted the female athletes he worked with. Overall, we just hope that justice will be served for every victim who has been injured and affected in the dark backstage world of competitive gymnastics.