A group of more than 70 Canadian gymnasts, including active and retired athletes, have publicly called for an investigation of “abusive practices” in gymnastics in the country.
Athletes who are or are members of the Canadian Olympic team said in a letter sent Monday to the director general of Sports Canada (the country’s Olympic Committee equivalent), Vicki Walker, that for nearly a decade the fear of reprisals prevented them from manifesting themselves.
“We can no longer be silent. We present our experience of harassment, neglect and discrimination in the hopes of forcing change,” the letter reads. “We urge you to take steps to ensure that the next generation of Canadian gymnasts does not experience the physical and psychological trauma we have to endure.”
According to the athletes, several complaints of emotional, physical and sexual abuse have been reported over the years. Much of this involved Canadian coaches, who practiced the act even when the athletes were minors.
The gymnasts also request that the results of investigations, if they occur, be made public and that the identity and anonymity of the athletes be protected.
“We know there are many other unsolved examples of harm and we know that abusive behavior continues in gyms across the country today. The current board failed to resolve this issue and failed to earn the athletes’ trust.”
In March last year, former Canadian women’s gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker was banned from the sport after an investigation. Despite being acquitted in 2019, following charges of sexual assault and exploitation, the gymnastics committee claimed that Brubaker violated Canada’s sporting code of conduct and punished the coach.
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