The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GIE), the sport’s international investigations agency, issued new safeguarding standards on Thursday to better protect athletes from abuse and harassment, with a view to the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games. The “Gymnasts 2028” framework aims to support and protect abuse survivors and whistleblowers, implement better mechanisms to report, manage and investigate complaints, and work with national federations to improve governance.
“The timeframe … allows for impactful action leading up to the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, which are both seen as critical benchmark moments for the sport of gymnastics and wider issues concerning ethics, integrity and safety in global sport,” the GEF said. The foundation was created by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in 2019 after the sexual abuse scandal involving Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor serving decades in prison for abusing hundreds of young female athletes.
Gymnastics has been rocked by reports of abuse and cover-ups in recent years, with athletes from countries including Britain, Canada and Australia among those alleging physical and psychological abuse. British Gymnastics has said it would name banned coaches and promised “zero tolerance of abuse” after a damning review found athletes were subjected to widespread abuse in a system focused on the pursuit of national and international success.
Richard McLaren, who led investigations into Russian doping, was hired to oversee the implementation of a culture review of Gymnastics Canada last June after more than 70 athletes spoke out about abusive practices. The FIG published a new code of conduct last year to drive a positive cultural change in the sport and make amends for “years of bad practice”.
“The culture of gymnastics has been under significant scrutiny on matters related to the inherent power imbalances, a culture of control, tolerance of harmful and unethical behaviours, the vulnerabilities of young gymnasts,” GEF director Alexander McLin said. “This has underscored the urgent need to establish fit-for-purpose systems that uphold safety measures and prevent harm.
“Our approach … is rooted in upholding and practising international standards and best practices. It aims to build trust, attain legitimacy, uphold justice, nurture innovation and to be evolutionary.”
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