Gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci was “slapped and starved” by coaches as she trained before the Olympics, it was claimed yesterday.
The shocking revelations come in a new book based on documents found inside secret police files from former communist Romania.
The papers are being published in a new book “Nadia and the Securitate” by Romanian author Stejarel Olaru.
In the book, he writes that even the secret police officers were sometimes shocked by the treatment girls received at training camps run by the notorious coach Bela Karolyi and his wife Martha.
Comaneci famously secured the first ever – and previously thought unattainable – “TEN” score for her routine at the 1976 Montreal Games.
Mr Olaru wrote: “Starving the gymnasts was a regular practice by the Karolyis.
“The girls ate toothpaste at night before going to bed — this is how hungry they were. In some cases they talked about drinking water from the toilet tank in secret, because they were often not allowed to drink water.
“Some ended up suffering from bulimia. They became expert in stealing food, which they hid in places they thought no one would discover, like the hem of the curtain.”
In an unpublished interview contained in the book, Comaneci claimed she had been slapped and starved for up to three days at a time.
Meanwhile secret service documents refer to Karolyi sometimes eating meals including steak and chips in front of girls who were being under-fed.
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Comaneci, now 59 and living in Oklahoma, said: “I was aware of [Olaru’s] project and his research on the secret police files and informers.
“I told him that my whole memory is in the book I wrote, Letters to a Young Gymnast. Nothing more to add. Life goes on.”
Bela Karolyi didn’t deny the allegations when approached. He said: “By nature I am never satisfied.
“It’s never enough, never.
“My gymnasts are the best prepared in the world. And they win – that’s all that counts.”