Sexual violence in sport : 54 athletes “rebels” breaking the silence, “It is time to act”

Violences sexuelles dans le sport : 54 athlètes "révoltés" brisent le silence, "Il est temps d'agir"

Sexual violence in the sport : the athletes are breaking the silence in a forum

These are revelations that are shaking the world of sports and especially figure skating. In his book A long silence, the ex-champion of skating Sarah Abitbol accuses his old coach of raping her several times in the 90’s. “Revolted” by these revelations, 54 personalities the olympic have signed up to a forum to denounce the sexual violence in the sporting environment and provide solutions to protect young athletes.

Three years after, the impact of the movement I Too have always felt in the whole world and more particularly in France. A few months ago, the actress Adèle Haenel revealed to have been touched and have been sexually harassed by the director Christophe Ruggia when she was between 12 and 15 years. A case currently in the hands of justice, since the actress has filed a complaint in November 2019. But the world of sport is unfortunately not spared.

In his book A long silence, it is the skater Sarah Abitbol who makes revelations glaçantes. The latter accuses her former coach, Gilles Beyer, of raping her several times between 1990 and 1992 when she was between 15 and 17 years old. If the facts are now prescribed, the parquet de Paris has announced the opening of an investigation for “rape and sexual assault on minors by a person having authority over the victim“. “The investigations (…) will seek to identify any other victims who may suffer, in the context described, of offences of the same nature, “explains Rémy Heitz, the chief prosecutor of the Republic Paris, in a press release.

“We can no longer be silent”

In response to these revelations, the Commission high level athletes of the national olympic Committee and French sports published on Tuesday, February 4, on France Info and Le Parisien, a long rostrum to denounce the sexual violence in the world of sport. “We, the French athletes to a high level, we feel revolted. Outraged, but unfortunately not so surprised that it…” can we read at the beginning of this letter in which the 54 signatories, including the champion of judo Teddy Riner, the former figure skater Nathalie Péchalat, the champion and ex-candidate for Dancing with the Stars Ladji Doucoure or even the ex-tennis player Tatiana Golovin would like to thank the victims for being out of the silence. “They do not harm the image of the sport, they make it grow, “they explain.

If we take the pen today, it is that we feel responsible (…) If, for the majority, the sport has been a great school of life, with the values of sharing, mutual assistance, support, respect, for others, there is above all the suffering and the silence. We are also responsible because we have all had doubts, suspicions, bits and pieces of information…” write the signatories, who added : “We can no longer be silent ! It is time to act collectively and to be aware that to break the silence, it is also necessary to serve the sport.

How to fight ? The proposals of the athletes

We wish to say NO to the leaders, it is not suffocate of the facts to protect an organization, to preserve the image of a club or a federation. NOT the coaches, it is not to look away to protect your colleagues or to preserve your employment. NOT the institutions, it is not to avoid the one-upmanship in the media not to shred the image of the sport. NON-parents, it is not forget to continue as before, in order for your child accomplish what you have planned for him. These arguments, these logics, in erecting the walls that protect the aggressors. It is necessary to talk, say it again and again.” can we also read.

In addition to denouncing the violence and support the victims, the 54 signatories offer several solutions to combat these acts for “things change“. Among the measures that wants to take the Commission, we find the establishment of a “listening to victims“, which would be totally independent of the federations and “bound to respect anonymity“. “A cell ability to enter the ministry of Sports to allow for the launch of administrative investigations and the referral to the prosecutor of the Republic.” details the forum. But this is not all.

The Commission also wishes to control lockers and criminal history of any person in contact with young athletes (coaches but also volunteers and club leaders), but also “the lifetime ban to exercise any business that is in contact with the youth, regardless of the domain, for all of the offenders and sexual predators proven“. In addition, the forum proposes “the adoption of legislative measures allowing for the removal of any individual, regardless of his or her status, involved in a case of sexual violence.“. To conclude, the athletes claim to be “the implementation of actions of training, prevention and awareness to educate children, teens, coaches and managers in all sports.” “Don’t let the wall of silence will rebuild !” they concluded.

Hope that these proposals will be considered very shortly by the Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu. This last was asked by Didier Gailhaguet, president of the Federation of ice sports, to resign following the revelations of Sarah Abitbol, something that the members of the bureau of the Federation have denied this on Tuesday. According to The Team , four members (or one quarter) of the executive board of the French Federation of ice sports would resign on Tuesday evening following an extraordinary meeting. Didier Gailhaguet is expected to give a press conference this Wednesday.

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