"I knew in my heart if I was going to write a memoir. I had to bring it, and not simply talk about my highlights and paint over the ugly parts. I thought that I owed it to the fans, and I owed it to the gymnastics community to put it out there, to spark dialogue, and for people to know the reality and the truth because so many people are afraid to speak out. It's very political. We need to raise questions [about] gymnastics programs at the elite level ... because right now, there's a lot of methods that are, which appear to me, un-American."
What sorts of methods are those?
"When you're giving Márta Károlyi, the national team coordinator, pretty much all autonomy and unchecked power, I think that's dangerous. There are no repercussions and there's no accountability when you do that. So, a lot of people feel that it is a lot like a dictatorship, especially those on the inside, but many people will never say that publicly because they're too afraid."
Do you see other gymnasts today who seem to be going through the same issues and struggles that you personally faced?
"My situation was a little different. I was Romanian and I'm sure that had to play into the situation with the Károlyis; they used that to their advantage and used my father in sentimental ways and his violent behavior to their advantage. But, I think there are undertones still of the old Károlyi ways and methods in the women's elite program ... U.S.A. gymnastics puts them front and center in every televised major gymnastics event, and I think that takes away from the sport, rather than putting past Olympic champions and putting more of them in the analysis position. I think making them the headline and the main focus of every gymnastics broadcast is not a good thing for our sport."
Photo: Robert Chapman
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