The technical director of Italy's rhythmic gymnastics national team was suspended on Thursday after a group of former athletes made allegations of bullying over their weight and diets.
The president of the country's gymnastics federation (FGI) said Emanuela Maccarani had been relieved of her role within the governing body while investigations into her behaviour were carried out.
She had been in the position since 2018. She is also the team's long-time head coach.
"I will take over the role in an interim capacity," Gherardo Tecchi said in a statement after a meeting of FGI's ruling council.
Maccarini and her assistant, Olga Tishina, are being investigated by both the FGI and prosecutors in Monza, in northern Italy, over allegations last year of mistreatment of young athletes.
Tecchi added that Maccarani will, however, continue to coach the team "until the sporting tribunal makes its decision".
In late October, three former rhythmic gymnastics, including two double world champions, made claims of abuse in a series of interviews with daily La Repubblica.
On of the gymnasts, Anna Basta, said she had twice thought about killing herself, while 19-year-old Nina Corradini quit the national set-up in 2021 after spending "every minute of the previous few months wishing I could escape".
Giulia Galtarossa, a world champion in 2009 and 2010 who is and now 31, said she was berated by a coaching assistant for eating a pear, and handed her diet sheet with the message "we have a little piggy in the squad".
In an interview with daily Corriere Della Sera on Tuesday, Maccarani denied claims of psychological abuse. She said the accusations came from disgruntled gymnasts who weren't selected for Olympic squads.
Parents of gymnasts training at the national centre in Desio wrote a letter to the head of Italy's Olympic Committee Giovanni Malago in support of the 56-year-old, who has won a raft of medals for Italy since taking charge in 1996.
© AFP/Wanted in Rome
Ph: Belish / Shutterstock.com
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