National gymnastics team accused of receiving overtime bonus despite not training

By Hieu Luong   January 17, 2024 | 11:32 pm PT
National gymnastics team accused of receiving overtime bonus despite not training
Gymnast Pham Nhu Phuong competes in SEA Games 31 in 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Vietnam Sports Administration has demanded explanation from the national gymnastics team after athlete Pham Nhu Phuong accused it of taking overtime training bonuses without conducting actual practice.

After revealing that coaches took a percentage from the prize money of athletes, Phuong on Wednesday accused the team of giving overtime bonuses to the athletes, although they did not train at all.

After receiving this bonus, athletes had to give the coaches 50% of the money to put in a fund, with the purpose of paying for other expenses of the team.

Private funds have been prohibited in national sports teams for a long time. The Sports Administration has requested the team’s coaching staff and the National Sports Training Center in Hanoi to explain and verify Nhu’s accusation.

"The coaching staff have to provide detailed plans for overtime training. The National Sports Training Center also has to prove that the team did have overtime training. Otherwise, this is so wrong," director of Vietnam Sports Administration Dang Ha Viet told the media on Wednesday.

Viet said that if there was any wrongdoing, the administration would handle it strictly although the team are preparing for the Paris Olympics qualifiers with these coaches.

"We have to be strict because this is a money-related issue," Viet said, adding that he has requested all national sports training centers in the country to review the national sports teams to see if similar schemes were being carried out.

The Sports Administration on Wednesday had a meeting with Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Dao Cuong as well as National Sports Training Center in Hanoi and the national gymnastics team to clarify the controversies that surfaced over the past two days.

It started when Phuong said she was taking a leave of absence to travel abroad and visit her friends. Phuong confirmed that she sent a leave application letter to the coach at the National Sports Training Center in Hanoi, but this coach forgot to send it to the Sports Administration, which is the main reason why she did not get called up to the national team.

Because of this incident, Phuong decided to retire at the age of 20.

She then later revealed that she had to pay that coach 10% of her bonus when winning a medal, and 30% to 50% of other bonuses and an extra monthly fee which was not part of the regulations.

The Sports Administration concluded that gymnast Pham Nhu Phuong being dropped from the national team in 2024 was a correct decision since this athlete was not present in Vietnam for the team's training sessions. The responsibility in this incident belongs to two coaches Nguyen Thuy Duong and Nguyen Ha Thanh, as they did not inform the head coach of the national gymnastics team and National Sports Training Center of Phuong's leave of absence.

Regarding the accusation of taking a percentage of the prize money of athletes, the Sports Administration confirmed that coach Duong is responsible. The money collected is not related to the team, but only between this coach and the athletes at the National Sports Training Center in Hanoi, which manages Phuong and coaches Duong and Thanh. Both coaches had to leave the team after this incident.

Phuong came to prominence in 2018 when she won the Youth Olympic gold medal. At the SEA Games 31 hosted in Vietnam, she won two silver and two bronze medals.

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