Fact check: No, Simone Biles' elements aren't banned

A controversial rating of a new element in 2019 undervalued, not banned one of the Olympic champ's eponymous moves

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Four-time Olympic artistic gymnastics champion Simone Biles has pushed the envelope of her sport, adding four elements to sport's rule book that now bear her name. Friday (21 May), she unveiled yet another element never performed by another female gymnast: a Yurchenko double pike.

She's doing the hardest gymnastics ever done, making it look easy as she flips and twists her way into the history books.

But it has been falsely claimed that Biles' maneuvers were deemed too dangerous for others to attempt and therefore banned.

That's not true.

The false claim relates to the 2019 World Championships. Biles submitted two new elements, a triple-twisting double back on the floor exercise, which was given a J rating (elements are rated A-J based on their level of difficulty), and a double-twisting double back off the balance, which was awarded an H value.

That H-valuation was controversial. An easier version of that element with just one, instead of two twists, is rated a G. Biles new element was nearly 30 years in the making, with no one attempting to add an extra twist since the full-twisting element was introduced in the 1980s until Biles in 2019.

USA Gymnastics had rated the element higher in domestic competition leading to the worlds, and publicly disagreed with the valuation.

"USA Gymnastics respectfully disagrees with the value assigned to the balance beam dismount described as a 'double salto backwards tucked with 2/1 twist (720)' that was submitted on behalf of Simone Biles," a statement from the organisation read. "We had hoped the Women's Technical Committee would revise the valuation after we sent them an inquiry, but recognize that the WTC is the deciding body for these decisions."

The WTC defended its position, saying “In assigning values to the new elements, the WTC takes into consideration many different aspects; the risk, the safety of the gymnasts and the technical direction of the discipline. There is added risk in landing of double saltos for beam dismounts (with/without twists), including a potential landing on the neck.

“Reinforcing, there are many examples in the Code where decisions have been made to protect the gymnasts and preserve the direction of the discipline.”

This statement is likely the genesis of the false information.

Biles for her part thought the decision was, well, laughable, tweeting "hahahaHAHAHAHAHhahaHahaAhahAhahahaAhahahHAHAahaaaaaaaHa"