Gymnastics Ethics Foundation monitoring recent developments in rhythmic gymnastics at the Swiss Gymnastics Federation
07 July 2020, Lausanne · The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) is closely monitoring the recent developments in rhythmic gymnastics at the Swiss Gymnastics Federation that revolve around allegations of verbal abuse and harsh training conditions of gymnasts and which have recently been widely reported in media.
Gymnastics is a highly technical sport, requiring great physical and mental commitment of gymnasts, often in very challenging training conditions. However, each and every gymnast, regardless of whether they are practicing gymnastics at a local level or competing nationally or internationally, must be able to train in a safe environment, free of physical or psychological harassment or abuse. It is the responsibility not only of coaches but of all stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of gymnasts; abusive and negligent behavior should never be tolerated.
The recent allegations put forth by several gymnasts, who had trained at the Macolin training center raise concerns about the existing culture of rhythmic gymnastics in the Swiss National Gymnastics Federation and elsewhere. The recent developments also raise the question of the international movement and vetting of coaches – an issue which the GEF is currently addressing.
“Verbal or physical abuse of any kind should simply not be tolerated, much less condoned by those who bear responsibility for the well-being and development of young athletes”, said GEF President Micheline Calmy-Rey. “We are committed to strengthening safeguards at the international and national levels and applaud and encourage all who find the courage to speak up against unacceptable practices.”
The GEF has taken note of the preventive measures taken by the Swiss National Gymnastics Federation and that an external investigation has been mandated by the Federation. The GEF will continue to follow the developments closely.
Under the applicable rules of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), National Federations are responsible for implementing policies and procedures for safeguarding and protecting participants from harassment and abuse. One role of the GEF is to ensure that National Federations comply with such rules. Whistleblowers may also report directly to the GEF when national systems are inadequate.
Formally established by the FIG in 2019, one of the key missions of the GEF is to strengthen the safeguarding of athletes and other participants in gymnastics from harassment and abuse.