Ex-US gymnastics coach suspended 8 years for abuse

LOS ANGELES: Former US Olympic gymnastics coach Maggie Haney has been suspended for eight years for verbal abuse and mistreatment of athletes, media reports said.

On their online list of suspended and restricted persons, USA Gymnastics said Haney, 42, was “suspended from all contact” from Thursday until April 30, 2028.

Haney was accused of verbally abusing and mistreating gymnasts, forcing them to train even if injured, media reports said.

Haney owns the MG Elite Gymnastics in Morganville, New Jersey, where she trained Laurie Hernandez, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Games, and Riley McCusker, who was on the US team that won gold at the 2018 Doha World Championships.

The suspension was handed down by an independent panel after hearings into complaints of abuse against her, The New York Times said Wednesday.

Hernandez testified against Haney and McCusker wrote a letter critical of the coach, The Orange County Register reported.

Haney is barred from membership of the federation and is not allowed to train any athlete from USA Gymnastics or their member clubs for eight years.

She will have to undergo a two-year probation at the end of that period before any eventual return to the sport.

Haney’s case comes during a troubled time for US gymnastics, which is still shaken by the scandal over former national team doctor Larry Nassar who was jailed for sexually abusing dozens of athletes.

In 2018 Nasser was sentenced to 40-125 years in prison for abusing female gymnasts while supposedly treating them.

The federation in January offered Nassar’s victims a US$215 million settlement, which has been criticised by some of them, including Olympic medalists Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

They are demanding an independent investigation to determine if there were others responsible for allowing the abuse.

A US Senate investigation found that “multiple institutions” failed to adequately respond to credible allegations against Nassar.