Following an arduous investigation, cases of sexual abuse in the Australian Gymnastics Federation came to light, beginning in the 1980s.
The world of sport is not always as they paint it. Beyond the successes and joys, many athletes have very sad stories to tell, and several have just been uncovered with cases of sexual abuse towards members of the Australian Gymnastics Federation.
Something similar happened for years in the United States: hundreds of gymnasts testified against Dr. Larry Nassar, who abused his knowledge to abuse female athletes. Everything was captured in Athlete A, a Netflix documentary that has many testimonies.
Indeed, that work piqued curiosity in Australia, so the Australian Human Rights Commission got down to business with its investigation. 57 interviews with athletes, family members, coaches, and others involved revealed troubling data, dating from the 1980s to the present day.
The report speaks of inappropriate sexual behaviors and abuse that not only occurred during practices. As if that were not enough, these were carried out in public places, bathrooms, dressing rooms, medical offices, and rehabilitation rooms; in addition, in the transfers that athletes made to train or compete.
The testimonials vary, but they have in common that they are all regrettable. They range from athletes who were touched without consensus, erections from coaches, and a masseur who abused those seeking to recover from heavy workloads.
The different testimonies reveal all kinds of abuses. However, that of one of the gymnasts shows us that abusers take advantage of any space and time to attack: this athlete had to endure different situations, even when her mother was present in the same room.
“A massage therapist abused me when he was treating me for an injury. It happened when I was 8 or 9 years old. Abuse, sex, and denunciation were concepts totally foreign to me at that time. I was crying silently on the stretcher, I felt incredible pain, but I did not want to complain,” said the interviewee from the Commission.
What does the Australian Gymnastics Federation say?
After recounting unfortunate episodes, the Australian Human Rights Commission added a series of recommendations to eradicate sexual abuse and other problems such as bullying and neglect in the Australian Gymnastics Federation.
For its part, the agency published a statement with an apology included for those affected: “Gymnastics Australia apologizes to all athletes and family members who have experienced any form of abuse while participating in this sport.”
The CEO Kitty Chiller did the same through a video. She assures that the Federation’sFederation’s priority will be to guarantee the safety of its members and a good development in sports and personal matters for each athlete.