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OBSERVER - January 31st 2005Affected by the recent scandals, the most titled person of the Romanian gymnasticsâ history does not feel any motivation for continuing the work he started at Deva 24 years ago. Belu quit as the coordinative coach of the womenâs gymnastics team and gave up on the job he had at the gymnastics federation as well.
by DRAGOS STOICAThe Romanian gymnastics seems to be collapsing, even though, not long ago, it was an endless source of medals and performances that made Romaniaâs name be respectfully and admiringly heard all other the world. Octavian Belu, coordinative coach of the womenâs team, quit from all his current jobs at the Romanian Gymnastics Federation (RGF). In her turn, Mariana Bitang submitted a request for a leave of absence from the school in Deva where she is employed, and she will soon decide upon her future at the Romanian gymnastics team.
UNEASYThe name connecting all the performances of the Romanian womenâs gymnastics team in the latest 24 years has decided to get out of the main stage for good. "I have been thinking about this for a long time. The reason is the unjustified and dictated action of making me look bad in front of all the people. Actually, I believe this is not only an attack against Octavian Belu, but against the entire sporting performances, since we got in the place where every efforts done for this cause are criticized", Octavian Belu said yesterday.
COMPLOTNot wanting to accuse without proofs, Octavian Belu seemed convinced that the events in which his name was involved lately were not a simple coincidence. "There is someone who, from more than one direction, publicly attacks me trying to determine me to quit as the coordinative coach of the Romanian womenâs gymnastics team. All these, this long succession of "coincidences", are no longer a surprise for me. Everything happening is predictable, like the lawsuit with Oana Petrovschi. If I think about the ways in which I was morally slandered with the soap-opera-like stories regarding my personal life, Iâm pretty sure that this is a complot", the coach also stated.
AFFECTEDAs natural, Belu has suffered from all the events in which his name was involved lately. Due to the sorrow caused by the media madness regarding his personal life, the coach didnât have the power to go back inside the gym in Deva. "Instead of focusing on my job, I got preoccupied by the law aspects of the lawsuit with Oana Petrovschi. I havenât coached, because I couldnât get in the mood for this. At the last meeting in Court, I considered that saying the truth was a moral duty, so I didnât step back from talking about the money I got from the gymnast. It is a system valid for the entire world of sports. On the other hand, it is something with a moral and not a financial impact. As long as there are no contracts between the federation and these gymnasts, these things will not be regulated. For the time being, all the money I get is the salary from the RGF, which is 9-10 million lei, and I only have an individual work contract with them".
ABANDONEDEven though Oana Petrovschi sued Octavian Belu and the RGF as well, there is no such collaboration for now. At the last presentation in Court, the RGF lawyer assisted unmoved at the entire lawsuit process. The lawyer hired by Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang did all the hard work.
IN BETWEENAll the artificial madness that appeared around Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang equally affected the members of the national team in Deva. "Unfortunately, the girls deal with very difficult times right now. I told them that there would be some confuse times after the Olympic Games, but the happenings these days extended this period. I figure that everyone sees me as an attacked and as an easy to attack person and I am not sure that there wonât be any such other attacks in the future - morally or financially. For the time being, I cannot go into the gym and see every little girl as a potential accuser. I cannot work like that, I am not in the position to lead right now", concluded Octavian Belu.
ACCUSATIONS"Even though we are both defendants, RGF doesnât seem to get involved at all. They looked as observers until now and they donât seem to realize, or maybe they donât want to, that this is a lawsuit we are all involved in. I have no more comments regarding the statements of the RGF president, Nicolae Vieru. He practically put a black shadow upon all my performances. I am at the other end, because I believe that this lawsuit can result into a very dangerous precedent, that will send not only the children away from the gymnastics, but the gymnastics coaches as well. The lack of a clear contract will transform this activity into a very dangerous one. I am sure that there will no sports if all the traumatisms and micro-traumatisms are exaggerated", the most titled person in the history of the Romanian gymnastics also stated.
Catalina Ponor Sets Her Eyes on RetirementOctavian Beluâs main support in Deva, coach Mariana Bitang, revealed yesterday that Catalina Ponor wants to abandon performance. "Iâm tired of all the facts in the newspapers that donât do anything but accuse without proof. It affects us, and the two coaches as well. They did enough for us and for the Romanian sports, so they donât deserve a bit of all thatâs happening to them now. If they donât have the power to come to the gym anymore, which is very understandable, then I wonât come either. I am having a very bad feeling about whatâs happening. Actually, it is a very tensioned atmosphere inside the team now", the Olympic champion said yesterday. From the moment when the gymnast made this public, Mariana Bitang stood with her for more than 24 hours trying to calm her. "I stood with her yesterday and I tried to calm her down. I didnât exaggerate with making her change her mind about the retirement, because there might be someone else to say we impose certain things to the gymnasts. Anyway, all thatâs happening now is regrettable!", Mariana Bitang said yesterday.
LAWYERAccording to some latter-day news, an American lawyer might be involved in the lawsuit in which Oana Petrovschi sued Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang. He seems to have been hired by the Classic Management company in New York, and he would represent more former members of the womenâs gymnastics team. "I heard he already was in Bucharest, and at last weekâs meeting in Court. The only certain fact is that we cannot ask for the names of all the people entering the Court room", Mariana Bitang said yesterday.
Translation : SORIN BALAN
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