Maggie Haney, an elite gymnastics coach in New Jersey who was accused of verbally abusing and mistreating athletes, has been suspended from the game for eight years by U.S.A. Gymnastics after a weekslong disciplinary listening to.
The accusations in opposition to Haney, which included forcing athletes to coach by accidents, had been specified by U.S.A. Gymnastics paperwork and interviews with two individuals with data of the listening to. The suspension was confirmed by the federation in a press release on Wednesday evening.
Haney, 42, owns MG Elite Gymnastics in Morganville, N.J., the place till just lately she coached Riley McCusker, a member of america workforce that received the 2018 world championship. Laurie Hernandez, a 2016 Olympian, additionally used to coach below Haney within the New Jersey gymnasium.
Haney has had at the very least one athlete on the junior or senior nationwide workforce yearly since 2013.
At the least six households made accusations about abuse, in response to Karen Goeller, one other gymnastics coach in New Jersey and one of many two individuals who supplied details about the hassle to self-discipline Haney. Goeller submitted one of many formal complaints in opposition to Haney final Might. The opposite particular person requested anonymity to debate the fragile matter.
U.S.A. Gymnastics mentioned that an impartial listening to panel composed of three members of the gymnastics neighborhood — a lawyer, a membership proprietor, and a former nationwide workforce athlete — had decided that Haney can be barred from membership within the federation “and any teaching of U.S.A. Gymnastics athletes or in member golf equipment.”
A two-year probationary interval is to comply with the suspension. After that Haney might be allowed to reapply for membership after submitting proof that she has accomplished specified programs overseen by america Heart for SafeSport, the group that investigates incidents of misconduct in Olympic sports activities.
Haney didn’t reply instantly to a request for remark, however Russell Prince, a lawyer representing her, mentioned they disagreed with the listening to panel’s findings.
“We don’t assume that it in any means, form or type evaluated the entire details of the circumstances,” Prince mentioned. “The method is totally heavy-handed. I’d anticipate an arbitration.”
Judie Saunders, a lawyer representing Hernandez and among the different gymnasts within the case, mentioned the penalties in opposition to Haney had been “a micro step in the best course for the way athletes are handled within the hypercompetitive world of sports activities.”
Haney’s suspension is the most recent turbulence in a interval of upheaval for U.S.A. Gymnastics after revelations that Lawrence G. Nassar, a nationwide workforce physician, had sexually abused lots of of athletes. The group has filed for chapter and offered $217 million to settle legal claims brought by athletes molested by Nassar, who in 2018 received prison sentences of up to 175 years.
The disciplinary hearing for Haney began on Feb. 3. She received an interim suspension that day barring her from contact with minors in the sport.
Concerns about the practices of Victoria Levine, an assistant MG Elite coach who is partial owner of the gym where the team trains, were raised during the hearing. Levine received an interim suspension on March 17 that barred her from unsupervised contact with minors.
The gym is currently closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Goeller has trained both current and former MG Elite athletes at a gym she rents. She said she became aware of concerns about Haney’s methods a year ago, when six families she worked with separately described mistreatment. In some cases, Goeller said, athletes were forced to remove casts and train on injured limbs.
Goeller said Haney told her gymnasts that they were not allowed to tell anyone what happened in the gym. “The kids were afraid to speak up,” Goeller said.
Haney has also threatened people who are testifying against her, Goeller said.
It is unclear when U.S.A. Gymnastics started investigating Haney, but Goeller submitted her report of misconduct — which raised concerns about one other coach and another gym — to the federation last May.
Until she was suspended at the start of the hearing, Haney continued to coach at national team camps while under investigation.Haney also coached at last summer’s Pan-American Games, where McCusker won five medals.
McCusker, 18, is considered a strong candidate to make the American team for the Tokyo Olympics next year, though she had to withdraw from a variety camp for final yr’s world championships due to gentle rhabdomyolysis, a muscle dysfunction related to overtraining. McCusker moved in February to coach with the Arizona Sunrays, working alongside Jade Carey, one other nationwide workforce member.
McCusker, by her mom Jessica, declined to remark.
Hernandez, 19, received a gold medal within the workforce competitors on the 2016 Rio Olympics and a silver on the steadiness beam. Hernandez took day without work after the Olympics and returned to nationwide workforce camps in November. She now trains at Gymnasium-Max in Southern California, the place the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross skilled.
Hernandez, by her agent, declined to remark.
Juliet Macur contributed reporting.