Maggie Haney

Laurie Hernandez
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Laurie Hernandez says Maggie Haney, now-banned coach, emotionally abused her

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Laurie Hernandez said now-banned coach Maggie Haney, who guided her to a 2016 Olympic gymnastics title, verbally and emotionally abused her leading up to the Rio Games. Hernandez said she developed eating disorders and depression as a result, according to The New York Times.

Haney was banned eight years by a USA Gymnastics independent hearing panel for violations including of an ethical code of conduct and safe sport policy, the federation announced Wednesday. Haney has not responded to a message seeking comment. Her attorney said she plans to appeal, according to reports.

“The toughest part about it was that there were no bruises or marks to show that it was real,” Hernandez said after the ban was announced, according to the Times. “It was all just so twisted that I thought it couldn’t be real.”

Haney coached Hernandez in New Jersey from her start in gymnastics, around age 5, through the Rio Olympics. Hernandez, the youngest U.S. female athlete across all sports in Rio at age 16, earned gold with the U.S. team and silver on the balance beam.

Hernandez told her mom about Haney’s conduct weeks after the Games. Her mom sent a complaint to USA Gymnastics, according to the Times.

Hernandez took a break from gymnastics and moved to California in 2018. She began training for a Tokyo Olympic bid in earnest last year with new coaches.

“The idea of sharing my story with the world feels extremely nerve wrecking and vulnerable,” was posted on Hernandez’s Instagram on Thursday in a thread that did not name Haney, “but after hearing positive results last night from the panel, I felt that sharing my story could help others, or at least raise awareness to emotional and verbal abuse.”

Maggie Haney, gymnastics coach, banned 8 years

Maggie Haney
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Maggie Haney, who coached Olympic and world champion gymnasts, has been suspended for eight years by USA Gymnastics for verbal and emotional abuse of athletes.

USA Gymnastics confirmed the penalty in a statement Wednesday.

The decision came after two months of hearings that included Olympic champion Laurie Hernandez testifying against her longtime coach and world champion Riley McCusker writing a letter critical of Haney.

“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, Safe Sport Policy, and other policies,” USA Gymnastics said in the statement.

Haney is suspended from membership and any coaching of USA Gymnastics athletes or in member clubs for eight years, effective immediately, followed by a two-year probationary period. After the suspension concludes, USA Gymnastics said Haney may reapply for membership after submitting proof of completing certain specified Safe Sport courses.”

“The ruling is regrettable but in no way surprising considering the heavy-handed nature of the investigative and hearing process,” Russell Prince, Haney’s attorney, told the Southern California News Group. “There is no fundamental fairness to the manner in which these matters are resolved. Clearly, I would anticipate an arbitration.”

The 42-year-old Haney coached Hernandez and McCusker at MG Elite Gymnastics in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey.

MORE: Laurie Hernandez talks Rio memories, Tokyo plans with Mike Tirico

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Coach Maggie Haney investigated by USA Gymnastics, report says

Maggie Haney
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Gymnastics coach Maggie Haney is being investigated by USA Gymnastics over allegations of verbal and emotional abuse of gymnasts, according to the Orange County (Calif.) Register.

Haney did not respond to phone and email messages Tuesday morning. USA Gymnastics would not confirm or deny the report.

“Athlete safety and well-being are top priorities for USA Gymnastics, and all misconduct reports and concerns are taken very seriously and handled proactively,” USA Gymnastics responded via statement Tuesday morning. “Thoroughly reviewing, evaluating and investigating a safe-sport report is vital, which means it is not necessarily a quick process.  While it may appear to the outside that a report or matter is on hold or ignored, the truth is that the report/matter is being dealt with confidentially in accordance with the established process and procedures, which fully comply with federal law and United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee requirements. USA Gymnastics only comments on a safe-sport matter if and when the resolution involves a public-facing result, such as being added to the list of individuals on the suspension/restrictions or permanently ineligible for membership lists, or if a panel’s decision yields a public-facing result.”

Haney formerly coached Laurie Hernandez, who earned team gold and balance beam silver at the Rio Olympics. Haney now coaches gymnasts including Riley McCusker, a 2018 World Championships gold-medal team member who has finished runner-up to Simone Biles at three competitions in the last 13 months.

Hernandez moved to California after Rio and is now training at a different gym for a comeback ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

MORE: Laurie Hernandez eyes camp return this fall

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