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Brazilian Federation Aims to 'Clean Up' Sport's Image
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Vicélia Florenzano congratulates Jade Barbosa on her all-around bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships. Florenzano plans to retire in January after 18 years as president of the Brazilian Gymnastics Confederation, and her replacement aims to repair the relationship with Barbosa.

The Brazilian Gymnastics Confederation needs to work on cleaning up the sport's image after its post-Olympic scandals, said new president Maria Luciene.

Luciene was elected president of the BGC on Sunday, taking over the post held by Vicélia Florenzano since 1991.

Luciene, president of Sergipe Gymnastics Federation and vice president of the BGC, defeated Marco Martins, president of the Brasilia Gymnastics Federation, by 13 votes to five.

After the Olympic Games in Beijing, team member Jade Barbosa accused the coaching staff of forcing the gymnasts to train excessively, which caused or aggravated injuries. Veteran team members Daiane dos Santos and Lais Souza supported Barbosa's complaints.

Oleg Ostapenko, head coach of the women's team from 2001-2008, recently ended his contract with Brazil and returned to Ukraine. Irina Ilyashenko, also a native of Ukraine, has taken over as coach of the Brazilian women's team.

Luciene said she intends to repair the relationship between the federation and the three gymnasts, all of whom are recovering from injuries.

"Dialogue is the best way. We know what's going on, but the problems are fixable," said Luciene, whose three-year term begins in February. "We know the responsibility of caring for our athletes, and we want to meet with them to solve all the problems."

The Brazilian Gymnastics Confederation is composed of 18 state federations, which each had one vote in Sunday's election in Curitiba.

"The first steps from now on will be reviewing existing projects," Luciene said. "Preparing for the Olympic cycle but also the Pan American Games, and train the technical committees. The CBG must be in line with the federations because they are the link between the confederations and the club."

Florenzano will retire in January after 18 years as president of the BGC, more than half of its existence. Florenzano, who also served as president of the Pan American Gymnastics Union and as a member of the FIG Executive Board, received the International Order of Merit from the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2007.

"There's nothing left in my power to do," Florenzano said of her retirement. "I have a lot of people to thank — I was privileged to stand for a long time with people on my side who helped me, supported me. I think the feeling [of moving on] is the same as letting a child leave the nest. We cry, laugh, pray."

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