A few years ago, Amelia Focke saw firsthand how top Canadian sporting officials behave towards young women.
In the fall of 2015, Marcel Abbott made similar allegations not only by her but also by an employee of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. After all, the headlines at the time meant that he had to vacate his position as head of the National Olympic Committee.
Amelia Fouke is a Montreal sports law attorney and president of the Canadian Association of Sports Law and Governance, a professional organization, and has long advocated for the interests of athletes. But she hasn’t found a cure for abusive behavior yet.
Allegations against the Gymnastics Association
An open letter in which more than 70 active and former gymnasts complained about the situation a few days ago shows just how bad the situation is. Among them is Rosie Kosar, who was once a member of the national rhythmic gymnastics team. She described on Canadian TV how common stress is:
“I saw my teammates collapsing during training. I was afraid that they might be seriously injured. As it turns out, they were completely exhausted. We called our federation to address these issues. But to no avail.”
The situation in the huge sports federation was so extreme that Kylie Humphreys, the most successful Canadian skater, could not find another way out: after marrying an American, she accepted his citizenship as quickly as possible, and thus was able to compete for the USA in Beijing. . She won the gold medal in monobob.
There are no independent investigations into Humphreys et al
Canada is left behind. But there is no understanding. Descriptions of Humphries of fear for her physical safety if the 2018 double Olympic champion clashed with then coach Todd Hayes, were dismissed by officials. Even independent investigations do not happen.
What at first glance appear to be isolated cases turns out to be part of an authoritarian management culture that does not attach any importance to responsible and equal athletes. The development can be seen all over the world. But in Canada it is also very violent as it manifests itself in different sports. Including not only in gymnastics and skating, but also in rugby, rowing and women’s football.
The constellation is always the same: the fate of those affected was not taken seriously by officials. As in the case of the sexual assault of a coach, which former professional soccer player Ciara McCormack reported on Deutschlandfunk in 2019:
State money without transparency
After all, the coach has since been commissioned by law enforcement. Which does not reassure insiders like Amelia Focke. As a member of the Canadian Football Association Board of Directors, I experienced first-hand the power structures a few years ago:
The public sector actively supports first-class sports. We have a program called Own the Platform that gives unions a lot of money. If you are receiving tax money, act transparently. But as a board member, I didn’t even have access to FIFA contracts or similar important things. It’s like the mafia. Federation presidents manage everything and keep all the information to themselves. So the board members cannot function properly at all.”
Conflicts of interest are programmed this way. Fock says Canada’s laws are already sufficient to address grievances. Politicians can also do something and put officials under pressure. But this does not happen. Which is why athletes are currently considering action to wake up the Canadian public. Maybe they have no choice
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