The C Score (2.0)

Will Belu remain head of sport in Romania?

Posted on: September 15, 2008

The sports community in Romania appears not to be too fond of Octavian Belu, the coach who steered the Romanian women’s gymnastics to five world and two Olympic team titles until he retired in early 2005. (Recall that he did so because Catalina Ponor and others were found at a Bucharest nightclub, and the team was eventually disbanded. Much drama.)

Belu was then named head of the ANS, the National Agency for Sport. Apparently he has been criticized since the Olympics for not going to Beijing. There was a serious clash between the Romanian Olympic committee (COSR) and ANS because two athletes were left home on doping allegations. According to this article, Belu was so angry with Octavian Morariu, head of COSR, that he then chose not to go to Beijing, apparently saying that “someone must take care of sports also at home.” My source on this is called Nine O’Clock, some English-language Romanian newspaper that, while claiming to be unbiased, doesn’t really appear so in this particular case:

The reasons of the former great gymnastics coach are more than childish (he says that “someone must take care of sports also at home”) as long as their deputies and his former collaborator, Mariana Bitang, are in China’s capital. Actually, the real reasons are that Belu understood that the results of our athletes at the present edition of the Olympiad are extremely weak, and did not want to witness an avalanche of attacks against him.

So Belu (little-known fact: his last name is actually Bellu, with two l’s) has really fallen from grace in Romania, which is a shame given his success. Of course, there were a lot of disturbing allegations against him and Mariana Bitang from the time they were coaches, notably from Alexandra Marinescu, but then they also led some amazing teams. (Their departure and the disbanding of the team, on the other hand, really left Nicolae Forminte, current head coach, with only two years to form a team for Beijing, since there was only one senior and seven junior gymnasts left after the scandal.)

Now there’s talk of Belu quitting ANS, apparently everyone thought it was imminent. The most recent article I can find that lists him still as president of ANS is from September 10th. (It’s in Romanian, so the fact that he still hasn’t quit was really the only thing I could decipher.) Could he be another coach that leaves Romania to coach a team with an up-and-coming program (a la Leonid Arkayev)?

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