Simone Biles reveals she was ‘forced to steal food from gym cafeteria after being underfed by coaches’

Karolyi Ranch shut down after abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics doctor and convicted sex offender Larry Nassar

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Tuesday 16 February 2021 17:09
Simone Biles admits stealing food in secret due to being so underfed by gymnastics coaches
Leer en Español

Simone Biles says she used to steal food from the cafeteria at her gymnastic training camps because she was not being fed enough.

The Olympian shared the admission about her experience at Karolyi Ranch in Texas, where she trained once a month from the time she was 12 under the supervision of Martha and Bela Karolyi, during an interview with CBS60 Minutes.

According to Biles, eating at the camp was strictly monitored and rationed, so she and fellow gymnasts would often sneak into the cafeterias to find extra portions because they were hungry.

“Granted, now, I feel like we can’t really get in trouble for this. But, like, there would have been nights where we would, like break into the cafeteria and go get food,” she recalled. 

Biles, the most-decorated female gymnast in history, added that she has “never told anybody that”.

“I’ve never told that to anybody, like, on film or anything. But there would be nights where we’re, like, running with our hoodie up, and we would break into the cafeteria to eat,” she said.

At the camp, the gymnastics were “frequently verbally abused about their weight and size, underfed and lied to or misled about the severity of their own injuries,” according to InsideHook, with several gymnasts revealing that the Karolyis would “routinely search their bags for food”.

As for how she feels looking back on the experience, the 23-year-old told CBS’ Sharyn Alfonsi that the strict conditions at the camp were “not the right training”.

Biles’ revelation comes after she called out beauty standards in gymnastics last week, when she shared a statement on Twitter condemning the “competition I didn’t sign up for and feel like has become almost a daily challenge for me”.

“In gymnastics, as in many other professions, there is a growing competition that has nothing to do with performance itself,” Biles continued. “I’m talking about beauty.”

In the statement, the gymnast reflected on the ways that this underlying competition has impacted her self-esteem before stating that she is done striving to fit unrealistic beauty ideals.

She previously discussed the importance of eating what she wants in a recent interview with Women’s Health, where she revealed: “I do not track anything. I eat what I feel good with and try not to overeat or stuff myself because I’m always at the gym.” 

“For gymnasts, in particular, [tracking] can lead to health problems and eating issues, so I just eat what I know I can and should,” she added.

During the CBS interview, Biles, who previously spoke out about the abuse she and numerous other gymnasts suffered at the hands of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was employed at the Karolyi Ranch, also discussed her continued disappointment with USA Gymnastics and the US Olympic committee.

Three days after Biles revealed that she had been abused by Nassar in January 2018, USA Gymnastics shut down the Karolyi Ranch. Nassar has since been sentenced to 175 years in prison.

However, according to Biles, the committees failed her and her fellow gymnasts to the point where she would bar any future daughter she had from competing in the sport.

In response to Alfonsi’s question about whether Biles would want her future daughter to be “part of that system,” if USA Gymnastics remained the way it is right now, the Olympian said: “No. Because I don’t feel comfortable enough, because they haven’t taken accountability for their actions and what they’ve done.

“And they haven’t ensured us that it’s never going to happen again.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments