Maggie Haney, Elite Gymnastics Coach, Is Suspended for 8 Years

Written by on April 29, 2020

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 way of accidents, have been specified by U.S.A. Gymnastics paperwork and interviews with two folks 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 the US workforce that received the 2018 world championship. Laurie Hernandez, a 2016 Olympian, additionally used to coach underneath Haney within the New Jersey fitness center.

Haney has had no less than one athlete on the junior or senior nationwide workforce yearly since 2013.

A minimum of 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 offered details about the trouble to self-discipline Haney. Goeller submitted one of many formal complaints in opposition to Haney final Could. The opposite individual requested anonymity to debate the fragile subject.

U.S.A. Gymnastics stated 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 could 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 can be allowed reapply for membership after submitting proof that she has accomplished specified programs overseen by the US Middle 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, stated they disagreed with the listening to panel’s findings.

“We don’t assume that it in any means, form or kind evaluated all the info of the circumstances,” Prince stated. “The method is totally heavy-handed. I might anticipate an arbitration.”

Judie Sanders, a lawyer representing Hernandez and among the different gymnasts within the case, stated the penalties in opposition to Haney have been “a micro step in the correct path 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 tons of of athletes. The group has filed for chapter and offered $217 million to settle legal claims introduced by athletes molested by Nassar, who in 2018 acquired jail sentences of as much as 175 years.

The disciplinary listening to for Haney started on Feb. 3. She acquired an interim suspension that day barring her from contact with minors within the sport.

Considerations in regards to the practices of Victoria Levine, an assistant MG Elite coach who’s partial proprietor of the fitness center the place the workforce trains, have been raised throughout the listening to. Levine acquired an interim suspension on March 17 that barred her from unsupervised contact with minors.

The fitness center is at present closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Goeller has skilled each present and former MG Elite athletes at a fitness center she rents. She stated she turned conscious of issues about Haney’s strategies a 12 months in the past, when six households she labored with individually described mistreatment. In some circumstances, Goeller stated, athletes have been pressured to take away casts and prepare on injured limbs.

Goeller stated Haney instructed her gymnasts that they weren’t allowed to inform anybody what occurred within the fitness center. “The youngsters have been afraid to talk up,” Goeller stated.

Haney has additionally threatened people who find themselves testifying in opposition to her, Goeller stated.

It’s unclear when U.S.A. Gymnastics began investigating Haney, however Goeller submitted her report of misconduct — which raised issues about one different coach and one other fitness center — to the federation final Could.

Till she was suspended at first of the listening to, Haney continued to educate at nationwide workforce camps whereas underneath investigation.Haney additionally coached finally summer season’s Pan-American Video games, the place McCusker received 5 medals.

McCusker, 18, is taken into account a powerful candidate to make the American workforce for the Tokyo Olympics subsequent 12 months, although she had to withdraw from a range camp for final 12 months’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 way of 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 break day after the Olympics and returned to nationwide workforce camps in November. She now trains at Fitness center-Max in Southern California, the place the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross skilled.

Hernandez, by way of her agent, declined to remark.

Juliet Macur contributed reporting.

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