‘I Had My Duties': Martha Karolyi Denies Responsibility for Safety of Gymnasts Who Allege Sexual Abuse

Few names have loomed as large in the world of gymnastics as Martha and Bela Karolyi, legendary coaches known for tough, Soviet-style training that produced Olympic champions over a span of three decades. But the Karolyis reputation is now clouded by claims they did little to prevent the molestation of gymnasts by Larry Nassar when he worked as team doctor at the Karolyi Ranch.The question of who was responsible for the gymnasts’ overall security and safety has become a critical issue in civil lawsuits filed by gymnasts claiming they were abused by Nassar at the Karolyis’ ranch in the woods outside of Houston. Martha Karolyi states plainly that security wasn’t part of her duties as national team training coordinator from 2001 until her retirement in 2016.In a May 2017 deposition recently obtained by The Dallas Morning News, Karolyi said when gymnasts weren’t training with her inside the gym, their safety and security wasn’t her responsibility.“Well, certainly, I wanted them to be safe, but I had my duties,” Karolyi said in a deposition at her Houston attorney’s office. “And my duties were very specifically about the training, and some other people were responsible for other parts.”The deposition is part of a civil lawsuit filed by former elite gymnast Mattie Larson, who has accused Nassar of sexually abusing her at the Karolyi’s ranch and training facility when he worked as a trainer for USA Gymnastics.In the deposition, Karolyi said she the first she heard of a complaint about Nassar abusing gymnasts came when she got a phone call in June 2015 from Steve Penny, then president of USA Gymnastics (USAG), the national governing body for the sport.Before then, she had heard no complaints about Nassar during her tenure as national training coordinator. “Absolutely not,” she said.  Continue reading...

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