USA Gymnastics on Wednesday suspended coach Maggie Haney for eight years over allegations of verbal and emotional abuse. A three-person panel found the former coach of Olympic champion Laurie Hernandez had "engaged in severe aggressive behavior toward a minor that included teasing and ridiculing" and failed "to provide a safe, positive and healthy environment," per the Orange County Register. More than a half-dozen families had filed complaints. In hearings that began in February, athletes accused Haney of bullying, harassment, and fat-shaming, and said they were forced to train or compete while injured. Riley McCusker, the 2018 world champion, penned a note critical of Haney that was read to the hearing panel, per the Register. Hernandez, who stopped working with Haney after the 2016 Olympics, was there to testify in person.
Hernandez complained to Rhonda Faehn, then senior VP of the women's program, in 2016. But "at least a dozen gymnasts said they were verbally and/or emotionally abused by Haney" after that point, per the Register. "She'd humiliate me in front of others … constantly make comments about me gaining weight, have me work out on multiple injuries, curse at me," Hernandez wrote Thursday on Instagram, per CNN. She said she'd cry upon waking, knowing what was to come that day. Haney of MG Elite will be barred from coaching member athletes or at any member clubs for eight years, at which point she can apply for reinstatement; she's expected to appeal. Her lawyer points to "the heavy-handed nature of the investigative and hearing process," per the AP. Another MG Elite coach, Victoria Levine, remains under investigation for verbal and emotional abuse. (Read more USA Gymnastics stories.)