From Nadia Comaneci and the Secret Police: A Cold War Escape, by Stejarel Olaru (Bloomsbury, 2023), Kindle pp. 185-186:
The rivalry between the Romanian and the Soviet schools of gymnastics began in earnest in the mid-1970s. It was to last for decades and proved to be one of the fiercest clashes in the history of sport. It was often lacking in fair play, with some results being decided before tournaments even began, but the gymnasts from the two countries knew nothing of these behind-the-scenes machinations and in every contest, they gave their very best to win on each apparatus. Communist jargon held that the Soviet experiment was the prime factor in developing the creative spirit of the working class. In gymnastics this was by no means an empty slogan. The Soviets were genuine pioneers, bold innovators. In every major competition, the Soviet gymnasts stood out for their acrobatics and exceptional grace. In the decades immediately after the war, the Romanians watched Soviet women’s gymnastics with admiration and tried to learn from it as much as they could during educational trips and exchanges organised as part of the two countries’ bilateral relations. They took part in competitions held in the U.S.S.R. and maintained links with trainers there, not only because they said it was a pride to learn the secrets of the sport from ‘the big brother to the East’, but because the Soviets genuinely were the best.
In 1973, the Romanian Gymnastics Federation took a decision that showed collaboration between the two countries had become closer than ever, hiring Soviet trainer Aleksandr Bogdazarov as manager of the women’s national squad. Bogdazarov was given the task of training the team for the 1974 World Championships in Varna and supervised four groups of Romanian trainers: Ioan Pătru, Gheorghe Condovici, Gheorghe Gorgoi, Atanasia Albu, Norbert Kuhn, and Elena Leuşteanu, alongside whom worked choreographer Géza Pozsár and pianist Carol Stabişevshi. Bogdazarov’s results were not spectacular, but by 1976, the Romanian team had risen two places in the ranking, compared with the 1972 Munich Olympics.
From 1975, the comradely spirit between Romania and the U.S.S.R. began to deteriorate. It was in 1975 that Nadia Comăneci first made an international name for herself, winning the Champions Trophy in London. The Soviets saw that their supremacy was in danger. Mircea Bibire, a gymnastics trainer in Oneşti and a longstanding informer, confessed to a Securitate officer in late April, after returning from a trip to the U.S.S.R., that the young gymnast from Romania had caught the Russians’ attention: ‘On return from the U.S.S.R., prof. Bibire Mircea recounted to me the enormous interest that the Soviet specialists have in gymnast Nadia Comăneci from Gh. Gh. Dej [Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej = Oneşti]. He even found it suspect that they were obsessed with knowing as much about her as possible and he confessed his fear that they might undertake “unsporting” measures against her in question, who threatens their supremacy in women’s gymnastics. He signalled to me that the sanitary assistant who takes care of the gymnast’s food is of Russian ethnicity and he is afraid that they might act via her to ruin the gymnast’s form.’