The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) is aware of the findings of the investigation conducted by Pachmann Attorneys at Law which were presented publicly on 29 January 2021 during a dedicated press conference. The investigation scrutinised the situation of rhythmic gymnastics at the Swiss Gymnastics Federation (STV) following allegations of abuse and harsh training conditions, brought forward by gymnasts and other members of the Swiss gymnastics community.
The GEF President, Micheline Calmy-Rey, was part of the expert group convened towards the end of the investigation (in November) in order to discuss the main findings and the resulting recommendations. On this occasion, Micheline Calmy-Rey shared her expertise and commented on a number of points during and in the follow-up of the meeting.
The GEF notes that the final report draws a concerning picture of the practice of rhythmic gymnastics in Switzerland which has taken place over a considerable period of time. The GEF welcomes the recommendations for future action given at the end of the report and will closely monitor their implementation.
It is now imperative for the new STV leadership to take control and set up clear processes and standards to protect the mental and physical well-being of all gymnasts in Switzerland. The STV must work with all stakeholders involved in the implementation of its strategy, promoting a spirit of mutual trust and collaboration. It must provide an environment where people can express themselves and where potential whistle-blowers are protected from any form of retaliation. In this regard, the GEF wishes to express its concern about the language used against the RLZ Biel in the report.
In response to the report, GEF President Micheline Calmy-Rey said: “Positive change must come from the top, but you need to have the trust of all key stakeholders to be successful. The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation will closely observe whether the recommendations of the report have been followed-up and it remains available for advice when needed, be it by the STV, athletes or other stakeholders. Whilst it is of utmost importance that national, independent reporting systems are in place and functional, our Foundation will always provide an additional avenue and support for the gymnastics community.”
Operational since January 2019, one of the GEF’s key missions is to strengthen the safeguarding of athletes and other participants in gymnastics from harassment and abuse. Accordingly, the GEF provides a confidential reporting mechanism and acts as an independent investigator and arbiter when there is a lack of, or lack of trust in, national processes.
The GEF would like to reiterate its empathy for the gymnasts affected and applaud those athletes and officials who found the courage to speak out. This is very difficult to do, but it is so important to raise awareness and push all stakeholders to work together and find solutions.
The GEF encourages the STV to make this important report, or at least the key parts of it, easily available in all official Swiss languages, in order to inform everybody concerned.
Click here to read the statement in French:
Click here to read the statement in German:
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