Team USA Gymnastics star Laurie Hernandez (R) provided testimony to a three-person panel about alleged verbal and emotional abuse used by Olympic coach Maggie Haney (L). File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
April 30 (UPI) -- Maggie Haney -- a former Olympic and national team coach -- has been suspended for eight years by USA Gymnastics for verbal and emotional abuse against gymnasts.
USA Gymnastics confirmed the ruling Wednesday night. The action followed two months of hearings.
Sources told the Southern California News Group that Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez provided testimony and world champion Riley McCusker wrote a letter to a three-person hearing panel.
Haney's disciplinary hearing began Feb. 3. She received an interim suspension and was barred from contact with minors in the sport at the start of the hearing.
The accusations against Haney included forcing athletes to train through injuries and engaging in "aggressive behavior toward a minor that included teasing and ridiculing that was intended to control and diminish another person," according to a ruling document.
Sources told the New York Times and the Southern California News Group Haney told injured gymnasts to remove protective devices so they could continue to train and compete.
"USA Gymnastics can confirm that the SafeSport hearing related to Maggie Haney has concluded," USA Gymnastics said in a statement. "The independent hearing panel -- comprised of three members of the gymnastics community, including an attorney, a club owner, and a former national team athlete -- found that Ms. Haney violated the USA Gymnastics code of ethical conduct, SafeSport policy, and other policies.
"As a result, the hearing panel determined that Ms. Haney is suspended from membership, and any coaching of USA Gymnastics athletes or in member clubs, for a period of eight years, effective immediately, followed by a two year probationary period. After the suspension concludes, Ms. Haney may reapply for membership after submitting proof of completing certain specified SafeSport courses."
The United States Center for SafeSport is an organization that investigates misconduct in Olympic sports.
"We don't think that [the investigation] in any way, shape or form evaluated all of the facts of the circumstances," Haney's lawyer Russell Prince told the Times. "The process is completely heavy-handed. I would anticipate an arbitration."
Haney, 42, owns MG Elite Gymnastics in Morganville, N.J. McCusker and Hernandez previously trained with Haney at the gym. Haney coached several other athletes from the junior and senior national team at the gym annually since 2013. The gym is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.