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Romania in clear over naked gymnastics

Posted: Tuesday December 17, 2002 11:13 AM

TOKYO (AP) -- Organizers decided Tuesday not to ban Romania from next year's international youth gymnastics competition after three of the country's former Olympians appeared naked on DVDs.

Japan Junior Gymnastic Club Federation officials will allow two Romanian gymnasts to be among the 40 athletes from 14 nations expected to take part in the tournament in Yokohama next September, spokeswoman Eri Nakamura said.

The federation had been considering the ban since one of its directors, Keiko Ikeda, saw a TV program two weeks ago pitching DVDs of Lavinia Milosovici, 26, Claudia Presecan, 23, and Corina Ungureanu, 22, posing and performing gymnastics naked.

But Japanese gymnastics officials changed their minds after contacting Romania's Gymnastics Federation and confirming it no longer had any connection to the trio, Nakamura said.

"It's sad for gold medal athletes to appear in adult videos," Nakamura said. "But the videos really have nothing to do with this youth tournament."

Nakamura said organizers remain concerned that competitors, all between 13 and 18 years old, may see the videos. But she didn't say whether organizers would lodge a complaint with Tokyo-based K-Network Co., which began selling the videos, titled "Gold Bird" and "Euro Angels," on Dec. 3.

The flap over the DVDs comes weeks after the three former gymnasts bared all in photos carried in the Nov. 16 edition of Shukan Gendai, a Japanese weekly magazine.

The photos, bought from Tokyo-based publisher Ongaku Senka Co. -- which compiled them for a book released last month -- drew protests last month from Romanian gymnastics officials, who said they demeaned the sport and disgraced the country.

On Tuesday, senior Romanian Gymnastics Federation officials were discussing action against the three former gymnasts for wearing the national team's uniforms in both the photos and videos.

"If they just posed nude it's their business, it's their life and they can do what they want with it. But they also posed in gymnastics suits with our federation's emblem on them," said Adrian Stoica, secretary general of the federation, in a telephone interview in Bucharest. "We cannot ignore the problem. The costumes are copyrighted."

Both the publisher and the DVD producers refused to say how much the three women earned.

Milosovici won two golds at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and Presecan won a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. All three have said they didn't mean to denigrate the image of Romanian gymnastics.

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