German gymnastics coach removed after bullying investigation

CHEMNITZ, Germany — A German gymnastics coach has been removed from her post at an Olympic training center after an investigation found she mistreated athletes.

The head of the training center in eastern Germany, Thomas Weise, told the dpa news agency Tuesday that “the working relationship” with coach Gabriele Frehse has ended. She has coached for more than three decades.

Gymnasts including Pauline Schäfer, the 2017 world champion on balance beam, accused Frehse of intimidating and bullying athletes in an investigation by news outlet Der Spiegel last year. The German Gymnastics Union commissioned an investigation which found evidence of “psychological violence” in 17 incidents. She was also accused of giving painkillers to gymnasts. The board of the gymnastics union recommended in January that Frehse should be fired from the training center.

Frehse has denied wrongdoing. She told the German gymnastics website Gymmedia on Monday that she planned to ask a court to have her reinstated.

In the United States, USA Gymnastics women’s team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison in 2018 for using medical treatment as a guise for sexually abusing young athletes.

Since then, reviews into abuse in gymnastics have taken place in countries including Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Britain, Japan and New Zealand, often with a focus on intimidation by coaches.

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