Why Mary Lou Retton's Health Care Mystery Has People Flipping Mad

Photo: Getty Images North America

The back pages of the New York tabloids Thursday were dominated by the dismissal of longtime New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, with a mention of the passing of Miracle Met shortstop Bud Harrelson, or the surprise retirement of Alabama coaching legend Nick Saban, and perhaps a preview of the NFL playoffs. Lost in the shuffle is the saga of gymnast Mary Lou Retton’s health. Forty years ago, Retton vaulted her way to Olympic gold in Los Angeles, but in recent months, stories of her poor health and lack of health care made people donate on GoFundMe toward her recovery.

Award-winning USA Today national sports columnist Christine Brennan got to know Retton well through the years. She broke the story in October of Retton’s daughter asking for donations to save her ailing mother. Now, however, Brennan says many people are suddenly asking questions about where the donations went. Brennan appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss Retton’s refusal to answer even the most basic questions about her health.

“I sent very specific questions to Mary Lou, to one of her daughters,” Brennan told Berman and Riedel, “and she wouldn’t answer any of them, guys. And the questions were this: what hospital? Name the hospital. How about maybe a P.R. person that I could talk to at the hospital just to confirm you were there. Security-wise, when she was in the hospital, they said they didn’t want to have that out there; of course… but she’s been out of the hospital for two and a half months, and no hospital name, no doctor name, no explanation of why she didn’t have insurance, especially with the Affordable Care Act.”

Brennan says Retton’s public image as “America’s sweetheart” requires her to come clean. “She needs to do this for her own reputation, to answer the questions. If they had not asked for the money, then it would be a totally private thing, but once you go public and get close to half a million dollars, guys, then all of a sudden the questions come, and I’m here to help her answer that.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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