There’s even more smoke today on the subject of the long-suspected fire involving Hall of Fame gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi and his wife, Martha.
Bela, who gained fame via Nadia Comaneci’s 1976 perfect 10 performance, faces further allegations he abused young female athletes dating to the 1960s.
The Daily Mail reported that Romanian author Stejarel Olaru, in a new book, provided documentation from secret police files in Romania.
Olaru’s “Nadia si Securitatea” says Comaneci and others were starved, hit and denied medical treatment, according to the report.
The book’s claims come from old files via Romania’s Communist-era secret police force and include that “starving the gymnasts was a regular practice by the Karolyis.”
Also: “The girls ate toothpaste at night before going to bed — this is how hungry they were. In some cases they talked about drinking water from the toilet tank in secret, because they were often not allowed to drink water.”
Comaneci, who lives in Oklahoma, said she was slapped and starved for up to three consecutive days in the book, according to the report.
Comaneci, 59, told the Times in London: “I was aware of (Olaru’s) project and his research on the secret police files and informers. I told him that my whole memory is in the book I wrote, ‘Letters to a Young Gymnast.’ Nothing more to add. Life goes on.”
Karolyi didn’t directly deny the allegations.
“By nature I am never satisfied,” Karolyi told the AFP news agency, according to the Daily Mail. “It’s never enough, never. My gymnasts are the best prepared in the world. And they win. That’s all that counts.”
The Karolyis already face lawsuits alleging abuse and turning a blind eye to team doctor Larry Nassar as he sexually abused gymnasts. Nassar is a convinced sex offender and serial rapist serving a life sentence.