Former Brazil coach accused of abusing young gymnasts

In 2016, the coach was axed from the staff of the national team just before the Rio Olympics after a complaint by the parents of a young gymnast. Around 42 gymnasts talked of some form of abuse, most frequently touching during and after training.

A file photo of Brazil gymnast Petrix Barbosa. A former coach of the Brazilian national gymnastics team after a news report revealed that dozens of athletes he worked with have accused him of sexual abuse. One of those, Petrix Barbosa, said the abuse started when he was 10 or 11 years old.   -  AP

A former coach of Brazil’s national squad was fired by his gymnastics club after Brazilian TV reported he had sexually abused boys, presenting testimony from more than 40 victims.

The day after TV Globo’s report, Fernando de Carvalho Lopes was officially sacked by the club, MESC of Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, where he had trained young gymnasts for two decades.

The club said in a statement that the coach was “transferred to an administrative position” two years ago “after the first accusations.” TV Globo said prosecutors in Sao Paulo had opened an inquiry.

In 2016, de Carvalho was axed from the staff of the national team just before the Rio Olympics after a complaint by the parents of a young gymnast.

On TV Globo, 42 gymnasts talked of some form of abuse, most frequently touching during and after training.

“I was woken up more than once by his hand down my pants,” said Petrix Barbosa, a Pan-American champion in 2011, the only witness to talk to the camera without his face obscured.

An anonymous witness said that de Carvalho “asked me to masturbate and ejaculate in front of him.” TV Globo interviewed de Carvalho who said “he had a clear conscience,” adding that his accusers still had to “present proof in court.”

The firing of de Carvalho comes after Larry Nassar, the former doctor of the US gymnastics team, was sentenced in January by a court in Michigan to up to 175 years in prison.

At least 265 female athletes -- including several Olympic gold medalists in gymnastics -- accused Nassar of abusing them over a period of two decades in the biggest scandal in US Olympic history.