In gymnastics, repeated abuse scandals

In the United States, Great Britain, Australia and now in Canada.

In gymnastics, repeated abuse scandals

In the United States, Great Britain, Australia and now in Canada... The world of gymnastics has been shaken for several years by cascading revelations denouncing decades of physical and psychological violence in training and lifting the veil on a "toxic culture".

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The affair that has upset the gym the most recently is undoubtedly the huge scandal of Larry Nassar, named after the former doctor of the American team.

In 2018, this former osteopath and therapist was found guilty of sexually assaulting at least 265 top gymnasts and received cumulative sentences of at least 140 years in prison. Among his victims are several Olympic champions, including superstar Simone Biles.

Since this extraordinary case, gymnasts around the world have spoken out to denounce abusive practices, exposing a “toxic culture” within their discipline.

The latest example to date, Canadian gymnasts sued their federation on Wednesday for having tolerated a climate of abuse and mistreatment for decades. This action comes just over a month after a group of more than 70 gymnasts published an open letter to denounce a “toxic culture and abusive practices that persist in the world of gymnastics in Canada”.

In August 2020, it was the New Zealand gym that experienced a series of complaints of physical and psychological abuse that had long-term mental and physical consequences.

Ethics Foundation

In February 2021, in Great Britain, 17 former gymnasts launched legal action against their federation. In particular, they criticized their coaches for “an inappropriate and generalized use of physical force” and an “unjustified” application of weight control techniques.

In May of the same year, the Australian gym was targeted by a damning report on the practice of gymnastics in recent decades: bodies twisted to excess to make them flexible, sexual assaults, teenagers humiliated always too big...

Shortly before, former gymnasts, men and women, Greeks had written to the president of their country, recounting having also suffered mistreatment “akin to torture”.

In 2019, in the wake of the Nassar affair, the International Federation (FIG) created a “Gymnastics Ethics Foundation”, an independent body responsible, among other things, for cases of abuse and aggression.

Asked by AFP, the FIG explained that it had also “developed many initiatives” since 2018 to ensure the protection of gymnasts.

The body says it has notably strengthened its Code of Conduct and invited national federations to a major online conference in October 2020 "to share ideas and methods for establishing a healthy training environment".

The FIG has also developed an awareness campaign called the "10 Golden Rules of Gymnastics" and introduced "safeguarding officers" at all international competitions.

The Federation also ensures that several coaches have been suspended or excluded for abusive practices in recent years.