Anna Li, a member of the USA Gymnastics athletes council, and her mother, Jiani Wu, are being investigated by the U.S. Center for SafeSport over alleged emotional abuse of young gymnasts, The Orange County Register reports. The alleged abuse occurred while the athletes trained at Legacy Elite Gymnastics in Illinois, a gym owned by Li’s parents. Wu and Li have been accused of routinely humiliating young gymnasts in front of their peers, making them sit by themselves, calling them fat, placing tape over their mouths, and pulling their hair. One account alleges that Wu pulled a girl to the ground by her ponytail. The mother and daughter are also accused of pressuring injured gymnasts to train or compete, and threatening athletes that they would make negative comments to college recruiters. Mother and daughter “adamantly and vehemently deny” any abuse, according to an attorney representing the women.
Li, who was an alternate on the 2012 gold-medal winning Olympic team, joined the council to replace former Olympic gymnast Terin Humphrey, who herself was voted off for making light of abuse by coaches. Humphrey drew widespread criticism for posting a meme that read: “What Champions consider coaching is (what) the entitled consider abuse. Parents if your son is gonna be great he will take some (expletive) chewing along the way. Get ready!” According to interviews and correspondence from USA Gymnastics and SafeSport obtained by the Southern California News Group, at least seven gymnasts or parents have filed complaints about Li and Wu with USA Gymnastics or SafeSport.