LOS ANGELES -- Two women have told the Orange County Register they were sexually abused in the 1980s by the man who coached the 1984 Olympic gymnastics team.
USA Gymnastics is aware of the allegations against Don Peters and is looking into them, president Steve Penny said Sunday. Should the federation find merit to the allegations, the 62-year-old Peters could be subject to a lifetime ban.
"Athlete safety is a top priority for USA Gymnastics, and sexual misconduct against minors is unacceptable and against USA Gymnastics policy," Penny said. "USA Gymnastics takes seriously any written grievance regarding its professional members, especially those that could involve young athletes."
Peters was one of the country's top coaches in the 1980s, and his SCATS gym in Huntington Beach, Calif., produced several national team members. He was head coach of the U.S. team for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where the Americans won eight medals in 1984, including Mary Lou Retton's gold in the all-around.
Doe Yamashiro, a former U.S. national team member who was at SCATS in the 1980s, told the Register that Peters repeatedly fondled her, beginning in 1986 when she was 16, and had sexual intercourse with her when she was 17. Yamashiro said Peters' advances continued until she went to Stanford in 1988. A second woman, who asked that her name not be used, told the Register that Peters had sex with her in 1985 when she was 18.
Linda McNamara, a former assistant director at SCATS, told the Register that Peters told her in the early 1990s that he'd had sex with both of the gymnasts, as well as a third. The third woman declined comment when contacted by the Register.
USA Gymnastics requires its professional members, which include coaches and gym owners, to undergo criminal background checks every two years. The federation also has a Participant Welfare Policy that includes standards of behavior for coaches and staff members as well as reporting procedures if abuse is suspected. Sanctions for those who violate USA Gymnastics' code of conduct include termination of membership and/or a lifetime ban, and the names of those banned are published in the federation's magazines and on its website.
"Unequivocally, USA Gymnastics does not sweep issues like this under the rug," Penny said.