Western Australian Institute of Sport, Sports Integrity Australia, forbearance report

A review condemning the treatment of child gymnasts entrusted to the Western Australian Institute of Sport was published on Wednesday by Sports Integrity Australia.

In the report, the gymnastics program – which was closed in 2016 for financial reasons – SIA concluded that it was “reasonably likely that some athletes suffered abuse or harm”.

About 800 athletes, including nine Olympians, went through the program where verbal and physical abuse, fat-shaming and unnecessary skinfold testing were cited by SIA.

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A gymnast grabs the front pommel horse during the warm up during the Gymnastics World Cup on February 21, 2019 at Melbourne Arena, VIC. (Photo by Speed ​​Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Getty)

Other examples of trauma included the expectation of some gymnasts to train and compete while injured.

Incorporating 92 submissions from athletes, families and other parties, SIA CEO David Sharpe praised the courage of those who shared their experiences.

“Managing historical allegations of abuse in sport is inherently complex, due to the passage of time, reliance on outdated policies and jurisdictional issues that arise when respondents are no longer involved in sport,” said Sharpe said in a statement.

“The terms of reference for this review provided a safe way to hear and document participants’ experiences and learn from them, rather than a formal complaints process that would subject gymnasts to investigation and hearings.”

The SIA issued four recommendations from its review, beginning with the WAIS to adopt the National Integrity Framework and associated Independent Complaints Process.

He also recommended that WAIS ensure that all sports programs involving children are child-focused and age-appropriate, that WAIS incorporate athlete welfare into the policies, procedures and practices of all sports programs and that WAIS engages in a process of reparation and reconciliation with athletes who have suffered. harm or abuse.

WAIS President Neil McLean apologized to the victims and said WAIS had accepted the recommendations.

“We believe we can derive some confidence from this review that our elite athletic programs reflect the modern athletic environment and provide the best care for athletes,” McLean said in a statement.

“However, we can always improve, and we welcome the recommendations made in the report.”

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