(Montreal) A group of gymnasts filed a complaint Wednesday against Gymnastics Canada, the national federation, and provincial organizations for having tolerated a climate of physical and psychological abuse in clubs for decades.

“This (legal) action stems from the physical, sexual and psychological abuse of gymnasts in Canada while in the custody and responsibility of provincial gymnastics organizations and Gymnastics Canada,” the document reads. , obtained by AFP.

According to the lawyers, “the culture of control” and “abusive behavior” has led to the creation of an environment where “abuse and mistreatment of athletes is rampant.” Coaches are also accused of having had inappropriate physical contact with gymnasts.

This legal 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 the letter, which has garnered more than 400 signatures since the end of March, the gymnasts urge the federal government to undertake an “independent investigation” to shed light on this culture, a request “that has led nowhere”, according to Gymnast For Exchange Canada.

In the UK, British gymnasts last year launched a similar legal action. Since the huge sexual violence scandal affecting the American gym, gymnasts around the world have denounced past physical and psychological violence: starvation, beatings, humiliations.

The Canadian class action lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia (west), home to first plaintiff Amelia Cline, a former top gymnast who wants “sports federations to be held accountable” for abuses in the class. sport.

“I feel lingering long term effects from this abuser. Physically I suffer from chronic pain and psychologically I struggle to maintain healthy eating habits,” she told AFP, describing the abuse inflicted by her trainer as physical, psychological and emotional.

“The main motivation for this appeal is to bring about real change in order to protect the next generation of gymnasts,” lawyer Valérie Lord told AFP.

The lawsuit targets Gymnastics Canada as well as the federations of six of the ten Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

“All disciplines of gymnastics — rhythmic, acrobatic, artistic, tumbling, trampoline — suffer in one way or another from this culture of control and domination by coaches,” explained the organization’s spokesperson. , Kim Shore, saying “the accountability system has to change”.



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