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USA Gymnastics bans Don Peters

| Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - A former Olympic gymnastics coach accused of sexually abusing two athletes in the 1980s has been banned for life by USA Gymnastics and his place in the federation's Hall of Fame revoked.

Don...Peters, head coach of the 1984 U.S. women's Olympic team, was declared "permanently ineligible" after a disciplinary hearing by USA Gymnastics last week.

Peters, a Belle Vernon native, has already resigned from his coaching and director positions at his SCATS gym in Huntington Beach, Calif., and his ban will be published in USA Gymnastics' magazine and on its website.

Two former gymnasts told the Orange County Register that Peters sexually abused them in the 1980s, when they were teenagers.

In a Register story on Sept. 25, Doe Yamashiro, a former U.S. national team and SCATS member, said Peters began fondling her in 1986, when she was 16, and had sexual intercourse with her when she was 17.

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.

The alleged abuse can't be prosecuted under California law because the statute of limitation has expired.

Peters was one of the country's top coaches in the 1980s, and his SCATS gym produced several national team members. He was head coach of the U.S. team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where the Americans won eight medals, including Mary Lou Retton's gold in the all-around.

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.

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