“It all started in Russia.” Spanish basketball player provoked a massive scandal
A new scandal erupted in Spain. Basketball star Martha Shargai spoke about the dark background of her performance for the national team. In the summer of 2020, she decided to suspend her playing career, and last month announced that she was finally retiring from basketball.
Recently Shargai gave a high-profile interview to one of the Spanish publications, in which she spoke about the inappropriate behavior on the part of the former coach of the national team, Lucas Mondelo . At the same time, the publication in El Pais was postponed until the end of the Olympics after the basketball player received a call from the President of the Spanish Basketball Federation, Jorge Garbajosa .
Shargay played for a long time under the guidance of a specialist in the Spanish national team, and then moved to Dynamo Kursk, which at that time was also headed by Mondelo. There, according to the athlete, it all started.
“There are boundaries that should not be crossed, and he pushed me to the limit. It’s tough … I had a lot of nutritional problems because of this man. It all started in Russia. I played for Dynamo Kursk. We weighed ourselves every week and he always kept track of it. There were several situations when at the team’s training camp he came up to me and Sonia Petrovich and said that we were not entitled to dessert, because we are fat. At the time, I weighed 67 kg and was 1.82 m. Physically I was fine, but it made me insecure both on and off the court. I kept telling myself that I was overweight. This caused both a physical and a mental revolution in me, ”admitted Shargai.
Martha was diagnosed with two eating disorders – bulimia and orthorexia. A person with bulimia cannot control their food intake, which leads to constant overeating. Subsequently, being obsessed with his own weight, he experiences a strong sense of guilt and tries to get rid of the accumulated calories – he drinks laxatives, artificially induces vomiting, and trains to exhaustion. Patients with orthorexia cannot get rid of the obsession to eat exclusively healthy and “right” foods.
“When I found out that the next morning we would be weighed, I did not sleep at night. I could spend two hours in the supermarket studying the ingredients of all the products. I lost my sense of reality, did not understand how I looked. Regardless of whether I was fat or not. Now I love and accept myself again, but there are times when it starts to creep into my head. All this left its mark, and it will stay with me for the rest of my life, ”Marta said.
At the same time, Shargai said that Mondelo allowed himself to criticize not only about her weight, but also about her personal life (Shargay is engaged to the US national team star Brianna Stewart).
“He could not control his power. He never respected me either as a player or as a person. He leaves a lot of comments both to the public and personally, attacking me and trying to assess my personal life and relationships, ”said the athlete.
The Spanish Basketball Federation immediately reacted to Shargai’s statement and sided with her, condemning Mondelo for unacceptable behavior. However, the governing body said they were not aware of what was happening. This was confirmed by the basketball player herself. Moreover, the federation noted that if Shargai had informed the management about this situation, Mondelo would definitely not have stayed as head coach. The specialist left the post after the team was relegated to the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament.
“The Federation was aware of the deteriorating relationship between the coach and the players, but was not informed of this behavior. Everything was limited to the relationship between the specialist and his team. This circumstance was also taken into account when, after Spain’s performance at the Olympic Games, it was decided to dismiss Lucas Mondelo from the women’s team, ”the statement said.
The answer from Mondelo himself was not long in coming. The specialist disowned all Shargai’s accusations and said that over the 11 years of joint work, a rather warm relationship had developed between them. The coach said that he still keeps a touching message from Martha in her WhatsApp, in which she told about her intention to suspend her career. The mentor even quoted the athlete from an interview that she gave in December last year: “I am a rather secretive person who does not allow much to be found out about myself. But Mondelo has achieved success, we have a good relationship, because we love to win. “
In addition, the Spaniard said that it was he who initiated Shargai’s transfer to Dynamo Kursk, and the basketball player accepted the offer without any problems.
“I have always highly appreciated Marta, treated her with the deepest respect and admired her work. We were set high goals, many of which were achieved during the most successful period for Spanish women’s basketball, ”said Mondelo.
Mondelo also noted that the responsibility for the physical condition of the players, including their nutrition, lies not with the coach, but with the team’s medical staff. And, according to the specialist, neither Dynamo Kursk, nor the Spanish national team never warned him that any of the basketball players suffered from any disorders.
Among other things, the former coach of the Spanish national team attacked the federation and its current president, Jorge Garbajoza. Mondelo condemned the leadership for “taking as truth some statements that in no way correspond to reality,” and issued a statement in support of Shargai without his knowledge.
In addition, Garbajosa never contacted a specialist to find out his opinion on what was happening. According to Mondelo, the governing body pursues “the clear aim of causing maximum damage to its reputation.” Although while working together in the national team, his methods were not only approved by the federation and its president, but were also the subject of praise. The specialist has already turned to lawyers to study the situation and, if necessary, take appropriate measures.
Now Garbajosa is not in the most advantageous position. Spain’s women’s and men’s national teams have failed this year at the Olympics and European Championship, as have Spanish clubs without trophies in the Euroleague and Eurocup. Both teams have similar problems. Performers who are far over 30 years old are playing. Some are even over 40, like Pau Pazol from the men’s team and Laya Palau. The conflict with a top specialist by world standards, albeit no longer working in the national team, Jorge is definitely not on hand. The incident has already affected Garbajoza’s reputation. On social networks, many condemned the actions of the federation, since the leadership decided not even to listen to the opinion of Mondelo himself. Many publications have stood up for Mondelo, who is actively reposting words of support on his Twitter page.
How the relationship between Shargai and Mondelo actually developed is known for certain only to them. Perhaps, confirmation of the correctness of the athlete, or, conversely, of a specialist, will be found after the statements of other players of the Spanish women’s national team. If everything really was as Shargai says, then Mondelo objectively deserves both dismissal from the national team and a damaged reputation. For athletes, there are things that are much more important than results, medals and trophies. And the coach, even being the nominal leader of the team, in any case must observe some kind of subordination and not allow himself to make such statements about his players. But while no one finally figured out the situation, Mondelo still has a chance to avoid notoriety and defend his own honor.
The accusations of Shargai, who provoked a large-scale scandal, look very serious. It is impermissible to scatter such words verbatim. Mondelo is a coach who won three times at the European Championship, took silver medals in the Olympics and the championship (where the US team does not allow winning). This is at least a coach from the top 5 best in the world in women’s basketball, who has been successfully working both in the national team and at the club level for many years (he won the Euroleague at the head of Dynamo Kursk in 2017). Shargai’s claims could simply ruin the career of an elite specialist. The situation is subject to thorough investigation. Shargai should not be mistaken for the oppressed side in advance, as Garbajos hastened to do. We look forward to further developments in this unusual case for European sports.