Photo: Mohd Rasfan Agence France-Presse
The Study will focus on sexual abuse, emotional and physical-suffered by athletes, as well as cases of negligence, harassment, bullying, intimidation, exploitation and discrimination.
After high profile cases of athletes victims of assault and harassment, a study will be conducted on all forms of abuse experienced by athletes in Canada.
The last survey of this kind has taken place there are more than 20 years, ” says Athletescan, the Association of the athletes of the canadian national team, which will be at the helm of the project.
The study will be conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Toronto and receives financial support from the federal government. It is designed so that athletes have a key role in its formulation, argues Athletescan.
It will focus on sexual abuse, emotional and physical-suffered by athletes, as well as cases of negligence, harassment, bullying, intimidation, exploitation and discrimination.
Among the cases that have received attention is that of Bertrand Charest : the ex-coach of the junior team canada’s women’s alpine skiing has been convicted, in 2017, of 37 counts of the indictment for crimes of a sexual nature. He has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. The man is however, his findings of guilt and his sentence.
Since the last prevalence study of this kind, there are more than 20 years ago, the climate in regards to the awareness, understanding and disclosure of abuse, has radically changed
— Ashley Labrie
And this is not the only case : among others, the ex-coach Michel Arsenault was arrested last year for sexual assault and assault on gymnasts. Sheldon Kennedy, a former professional hockey player in the NHL, has been for many years sexually assaulted by his coach Graham James.
And then very recently, a survey of CBC/Radio-Canada has reported that 340 coaches of amateur sport have been accused of a sexual offence in the course of the past 20 years in Canada.
“A cultural change systemic is necessary,” insists the canadian government in a press release.
Because the canadian athletes have the right to enjoy their sport in an environment free of abuse, discrimination and harassment, he notes.
The ex-olympian Allison Forsyth — one of the victims of Bertrand Charest — brings its support to this study. “As a victim of abuse and harassment, I can’t tell you how great this job is important,” she says in a video message. She leads the working group on safety in the sport of Athletescan, composed of olympic and paralympic athletes.
“Identify gaps “
“Since the last prevalence study of this kind, there are more than 20 years ago, the climate in regards to the awareness, understanding and disclosure of abuse, has radically changed. These behaviors have become the most common threats for those who do sports and are detrimental to the positive influence that sport can have on society. With a better understanding of what are currently high-level athletes, we will be better placed to identify gaps in the sport system and take measures to ensure the safety of the sporting environment for the benefit of all “, said by press release Ashley Labrie, executive director of Athletescan.
Ottawa believed that the results of the survey will help them to make informed decisions in order to ensure safety in the sport.
Because it aims to identify opportunities to better promote the well-being of athletes, to assess whether they are comfortable reporting cases of child abuse and to make recommendations on new initiatives to fight the abuse, discrimination and harassment. Because it is not easy for the athletes, often young people, to denounce their aggressor.
In their civil suit against Alpine Canada, the employer of Bertrand Charest, three of his victims alleged specifically that the sports federation has not done anything to protect them and preferred to close the eyes, to preserve its image and keep sponsors. They argue, in the proceeding, as the organisation has not even taken the most basic measures so that they do not undergo such abuse.