Sunday , February 25 2024

National gymnastics coach suspended for stealing prize money


The Sports Authority of Vietnam has suspended Nguyen Thuy Duong, coach of the national gymnastics team, following allegations that she misappropriated gymnast Pham Nhu Phuong’s prize money.

Gymnast Pham Nhu Phuong. Photo from Phuong’s Facebook

Gymnast Pham Nhu Phuong. Photo by Phuong’s Facebook page

The decision was reached at a meeting Tuesday that included the national gymnastics team coaching staff, representatives from the National Sports Training Center, the gymnastics department head from the High-Performance Sports Department I, and officials from the Vietnam Gymnastics Federation.

The Sports Authority of Vietnam stated that the suspension is intended to minimize distractions for athletes currently preparing for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics qualification round.

Duong, who also serves as a coach at the Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Center, was directly responsible for training Phuong, a national team gymnast.

Phuong alleged on Monday that Duong coerced her into giving the coach 10% of her medal winnings and 30-50% of her spot bonuses over an extended period.

It was also determined in the meeting that Duong’s actions – to deduct commissions from athletes’ prize money – were individual misconduct, not the intent of either the national team coaching staff or the Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Center.

Duong has been asked to give a detailed account before any further disciplinary action is decided on by the Sports Authority of Vietnam.

In relation to the same case, Nguyen Ha Thanh, another coach from the Hanoi facility, has also been temporarily suspended for coercing Phuong to give up her prize money.

Gymnast Pham Nhu Phuong at SEA Games 31 in Hanoi in 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Gymnast Pham Nhu Phuong at SEA Games 31 in Hanoi in 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Truong Ngoc Lan, deputy director of the Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Centre, told VnExpress that both the Hanoi unit and the national team are committed to thoroughly investigating the issue. This includes pinpointing the timeframe of the incidents to ascertain which organization was supervising the athlete at the time, in order to determine appropriate measures.

“The center will not conceal or overlook the incident,” Lan said.

A follow-up meeting involving the center and the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is scheduled for Wednesday morning to reach a definitive conclusion.

Phuong, a gold medalist at the 2018 Youth Olympics and a notable female gymnastics prospect, secured two silver and two bronze medals at SEA Games 31 in Vietnam in 2022.

She applied for retirement after her unexpected removal from the early 2024 training camp, which was attributed to her unexcused absence. Phuong subsequently claimed that she had submitted a leave request to her Hanoi Sports Training and Competition Center coach for overseas travel to visit friends during the training camp’s phase, but it had not been conveyed to the Vietnam Gymnastics Federation.

When VnExpress reached out to her for a comment on Tuesday, Phuong’s sister and representative stated she was occupied and would comment later.

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