Coach still not planning to return


BUCHAREST, Romania -- A former Romanian gymnast
who had sued her coaches, accusing them of asking for money and
forcing her to compete with an injured back, dropped her claims
on Thursday after being compensated by a sponsor.

Earlier this year, Romanian Olympic team coaches Octavian
Belu and Mariana Bitang quit after 2002 world silver medalist
Oana Petrovschi sued them for more than $50,000 in damages.

Belu admitted receiving money from his athletes but said it
was given freely as a sign of gratitude and he never
demanded it.

"Today my client officially asked the court to drop the
charges against Belu and Bitang," Petrovschi's lawyer Dana
Pavelescu told Reuters. "We asked the court not to pursue."

Pavelescu said one of the Romanian Gymnastics Federation
(FRG) sponsors offered her client funds to drop the case, but she
refused to disclose the details of the deal.

"My client and the sponsor have a confidentiality clause
over their deal, so I'm not able to disclose it," Pavelescu said.

She said the Bucharest court in charge of the case agreed to
drop the charges.

With Belu no longer supervising Romania's 2004 quadruple
Olympic gold medalists, the gymnasts' training suffered and
they gained weight, even though they are preparing for the
European and world championships this year.

Although Bitang returned to work with triple Athens gold
medalist Catalina Ponor and the others, it has made little
difference to the morale of the girls, who said they also wanted
Belu back at the helm.

He refused invitations to return to the team, saying he
needed to sort out his legal problems. On Thursday he again
declined but this time because of the poor state of the

"Why should I go back to the hall?" Belu told Reuters.
"There is noboby there that can work hard because no athlete is
in a condition to train properly on the apparatus."

Last week, the FRG executive committee reversed a decision
to disband the country's Olympic women's team but did not let
the gymnasts train on the equipment because they were

Under FRG's rules, a gymnast can not train unless her weight
keeps her from danger during risky exercises in all four
disciplines -- balance beam, floor, asymmmetric bars and vault.

"I don't go to the hall to do fitness," Belu said. "My duty
is to prepare my athletes on the equipment."