Martha and Bela Karolyi have been at the center of USA Gymnastics program for decades.
The legendary coaches helped build the gymnastics program into what it is today, overseeing training for nearly two decades as the national coordinators. They even have held camps and training sessions at their ranch outside of Houston from 1999 until last year.
Yet in the aftermath of the Larry Nassar scandal — the former team doctor who was sentenced to prison earlier this year for sexually abusing more than 260 women and girls, including some of the biggest names in gymnastics — the pair said there is no way they could have known what was going on at their property for years.
“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding. Boom,” Bela told NBC News.
Nassar, though, abused gymnasts at their Texas ranch for years. Still, the 75-year-old couple said they were just as blindsided by what the former Olympics doctor was doing right under their noses as everyone else.
“If you couldn’t suspect anything — I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in the therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this and the parent couldn’t see,” Martha told NBC News. “How I could see?”
Martha and Bela have been named in multiple lawsuits and USA Gymnastics even cut ties with the pair and the family ranch in January, when the program said it would no longer train there.
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