Investigation finds culture of abuse in Australian gymnastics

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: May 03, 2021, 05:53 PM(IST)

Investigation finds culture of abuse in Australian gymnastics (Representative image) Photograph:( AFP )

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An inquiry into Australian gymnastics has found evidence of widespread abuse, sexism, racism and stringent coaching practices, according to a report published on Monday.

An inquiry into Australian gymnastics has found evidence of widespread abuse, sexism, racism and stringent coaching practices, according to a report published on Monday.

The Australian Human Rights Commission said that it found a culture that tolerated emotional, physical, verbal and sexual including body-shaming directed at young athletes over a decade. The development comes amid a “global reckoning” for the sport.

The commission, following the findings, recommended an investigation – completely independent – to look into specific abuse allegations while demanding formal apology from gymnastics authorities. It also called for stricter screening and a national register of coaches, who often have influence over vulnerable young women.

Gymnastics Australia called the findings "confronting" and said it "unreservedly apologises to all athletes and family members who have experienced any form of abuse" while promising to adopt all 12 recommendations.

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The world of gymnastics has been left red-faced by the series of scandals in recent times.

In the United States, former team doctor Larry Nassar was found guilty of sexually assaulting at least 265 identified victims over two decades including star Simone Biles. Whereas in Britain, the accusations of abuses have hit the headlines. In Greece, former gymnasts complained of suffering decades of abuse at the hands of one of their coaches.

The Australian inquiry was conducted after local athletes took to social media to comment on the documentary “Athlete A” which concerned the allegations on Nassar.

Among the Australians sharing their own negative experiences was Yasmin Collier, who spoke of having to strip naked in front of a male adult masseuse.

The Australian commission received hundreds of submissions before delivering its final report.

"While many athletes have had positive experiences and relationships with their coaches, there was a persistent use of 'authoritarian' or highly disciplinary coaching styles," their report said.

"A focus on 'winning-at-all-costs' and an acceptance of negative and abusive coaching behaviors have resulted in the silencing of the athlete voice and an increased risk of abuse and harm with significant short and long term impacts to gymnasts," it stated.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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