USA Gymnastics places restrictions on Azarian coaches amid abuse allegations – Orange County Register

Spread the love

USA Gymnastics has placed interim basis restrictions on three coaches at Azarian Gymnastics, an Orange County club owned and operated by former Olympic champion Eduard Azarian, after the national governing body received multiple allegations of physical, verbal and emotional abuse against the coaches, according to a USA Gymnastics letter obtained by the Southern California News Group.

USA Gymnastics will announce the measures Tuesday, according to the letter written by Mark Busby, the organization’s general counsel.

One of the coaches, Perry Davies, said USA Gymnastics informed him he was suspended Friday.

According to seven confidential formal complaints filed with USA Gymnastics, emails, letters obtained by SCNG and interviews with 12 Azarian gymnasts and parents, USA Gymnastics has received multiple formal complaints against:

• Vanessa Gonzalez, Azarian’s excel program director and a girls team coach, alleging physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, bullying and pressuring athletes to train and compete while injured.

• Davies, a former Azarian head girls coach, alleging physical and verbal abuse and pressuring gymnasts to train and compete while injured.

• Amanda Hensley, an Azarian girls coach, alleging verbal and emotional abuse.

“USA Gymnastics is issuing interim measures related to reports received regarding coaches Davies, Gonzalez and Hensley,” Busby wrote in a Friday letter to potential witnesses against the coaches.  “These measures will be published on Tuesday, September 8 in accordance with our publication protocol.”

Davies said he is unaware of the allegations against him.

“They told me I was suspended,” Davies said. “That’s all I’ve received. I don’t know what I’ve been accused of. (USA Gymnastics) didn’t even talk to me.”

“Really right now I’m in complete shock,” Davies added. “I’ve always tried my very best to take care of the kids, to make sure they were in a safe environment.

“I would never do anything to hurt a kid. So I’m flabbergasted. I categorically deny doing anything harmful to a kid.”

Davies said he retired from coaching 3 ½ months ago. He coached nearly 200 state champions during a 20-year career.

Gonzalez and Hensley did not respond to requests for comment. Azarian management also did not respond to a request for comment.

“We anticipate at least one of the restricted coaches will file a request for a hearing panel, and are scheduling a panel for Tuesday, September 15,” Busby wrote in the letter.  “Please email me directly … if you wish to remain anonymous and/or do not want to speak to the hearing panel regarding your experiences.

“We will be reaching out to all witnesses in this matter to gauge willingness to participate in the safe sport hearing panel process.  This panel will be used exclusively for the interim measure assessment, if requested, but we will need to begin sharing the information we have gathered prior to any requested hearing.

“Any person who has filed a report in this matter will be given an opportunity to address the panel, if they so choose.  We will honor our commitment to protect your anonymity should you wish to withdraw from the process, or ask that we withhold your information.”

Davies said he was also unaware of the Sept. 15 hearing.

Busby added in the letter: “In addition to the measures addressing the conduct of the specific coaches, we will be working with Azarian Gymnastics to fortify their current policies to bring them into alignment with the updated USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy – this includes open viewing sessions for parents of all athletes, educational requirements and gathering additional information from families currently enrolled at the club.  As Azarian Gymnastics is not presently a member, member club status will be contingent on meeting these standards.”

Eduard Azarian, 62, is not named in the formal complaints. The Armenia-born Azarian has long been considered gymnastics royalty. His father, Albert, won a gold medal for the Soviet Union in the team competition at the 1956 Olympic Games and also claimed the 1956 and 1960 Olympic rings titles.

Azarian followed his father’s footsteps, helping the Soviet Union win the team gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.  After coaching the Soviet boys and girls national teams for more than a decade, Azarian immigrated to the U.S. in 1992.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.