Canadian gymnasts sue the national federation for abuses

Thursday, May 12, 2022 | 9:54 a.m.

A group of Canadian gymnasts filed a lawsuit in the Canadian court against the national federation Gymnastics Canada and provincial bodies for tolerating a climate of “physical, sexual and psychological” abuse for decades, it was reported Wednesday.

“This action arises from the physical, sexual and psychological abuse of gymnasts in Canada while they were under the care and control of the provincial gymnastics organization in their jurisdiction and Gymnastics Canada,” a copy of the document obtained by the AFP agency stated.

In turn, the plaintiffs’ lawyers pointed out that “globally the sport of gymnastics has come under scrutiny for its culture of cruelty”, due to the “culture of control and abusive behavior” that led to the creation ” in an environment where abuse and mistreatment of athletes are commonplace.

The lawsuit was filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, where the main plaintiff, former gymnast Amelia Cline, resides.

After leaving the sport as a teenager, Cline said he is taking legal action to “hold these institutions accountable” for their abuses.

Cline said during an interview that she suffered “lingering long-term effects” from the abuse she received, including “chronic physical and psychological pain.”

The lawsuit is directed at the national gymnastics federation and federations in six of the country’s 10 provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

This legal action came shortly after a group of more than 70 gymnasts, many of whom have already left the competition, published an open letter denouncing a “toxic culture and abusive practices that persist in Canadian gymnastics.”

The letter, which collected more than 400 signatures, calls on the Canadian government to order an independent investigation, after the group behind the “Gymnasts For Change” campaign said they “got nowhere” in trying to get the federation conduct an internal investigation.

For her part, the group’s spokeswoman, Kim Shore, maintained that “all the disciplines, rhythmic, acrobatic, artistic, ‘tumbling’ and trampoline, are, to a certain extent, affected by this culture, and by the dominance that the coaches have developed over decades.

“The accountability system has to change,” Shore concluded.

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