Bela Karolyi is accused in a new book of horrific rape of Nadia Comaneci.
Bela Karolyi, a Hall of Fame gymnastics mentor, and his wife, Martha, are facing new accusations of physical and psychological harassment of young female athletes dating all the way back to the 1960s in a newly released book, the Daily Mail reports.
According to Romanian author Stejarel Olaru's book "Nadia si Securitate," Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci — the first gymnast to earn a perfect ten at the 1976 Olympics — is one of the victims who were starving to the point of having eating disorders, slapped, and refused medical attention.
Comaneci was Bela Karolyi's first prodigy and the catalyst for his 1981 defection to America.
Bela was the individual coach for 1984 Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton and the head coach of the United States Olympic team in 1992. Martha was the head coach of the 1996 gold medal-winning team. However, it was Bela, as Kerri Strug's trainer, who gained notoriety for keeping Strug calm and motivated during an ankle injury when she aced the vault that clinched gold. Later, he escorted her from the mat to the podium.
The new book's violence allegations are based on declassified files from Romania's Communist-era secret police service, the Securitate.
According to the paper, “Starving the gymnasts was a routine activity of the Karolyis.” “The girls ate toothpaste before going to bed because they were so hungry. In certain instances, they discussed secretly drinking water from the toilet tank, as they were often not permitted to drink water. Some developed bulimia. They developed an expertise in food theft, concealing it in areas they believed no one would notice, such as the hem of the curtain.”
According to the article, Comaneci said in a previously unpublished interview included in the book that she had been slapped and starving for up to three consecutive days. Bela Karolyi reportedly consumed meals, including steak and fries, in front of the allegedly malnourished athletes.
When questioned about the book's allegations, Comaneci, now 59 and living in Oklahoma, told the London newspaper The Times, "I was aware of [Olaru's] project and his study on secret police files and informants." I explained to him that my entire memory is contained in the book I wrote, titled 'Letters to a Young Gymnast.' There is nothing else to say. Life continues.”
Bela Karolyi was contacted by the AFP news agency about the allegations.
According to the Daily Mail, Karolyi responded, "By necessity, I am never happy." “There is never enough. My gymnasts are among the best in the world. And they triumph. It is all that matters.”
In the United States, the Karolyis face litigation alleging various types of harassment and turning a blind eye to team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of gymnasts. Nassar is a convicted sex abuser and serial rapist serving a life sentence for child pornography and sexual abuse of hundreds of women while working as a gymnastics doctor.
The Karolyis counter-sued USA Gymnastics, seeking damages for the cancelled sale of their training facilities on a ranch in Texas — the location of some of Nassar's crimes — as well as claiming immunity from liability for Nassar's conduct.
Bela Karolyi and Comaneci toured the United States for 11 cities in 1981, earning $250,000 for Romania but just $1,000 for the young gymnast, the study said. During the tour, Karolyi applied for and was granted political asylum.