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Swiss gymnastics trainers resign amid abuse allegations

Giulia Steingruber is Switzerland's star female gymnast Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Trainers for the Swiss Gymnastics Federation’s (STV) women’s team have resigned en masse following an ethics investigation that upheld athletes’ complaints of psychological abuse and a series of poor performances.

This content was published on September 1, 2021 - 16:28
Reuters/ts

The ethics committee’s report, which was presented to the STV’s leadership on August 27 and made public on Wednesday, recommended cutting ties with the coaching staff.

“By mutual agreement, it was decided that the current coaching team would relinquish the leadership of training with immediate effect and be released from their duties,” the federation said in a statement.

The committee’s investigation found violations of the Swiss Olympic Ethics Charter during the period from 2016 to 2019 “and that in particular the mental and physical health of female athletes was not sufficiently protected”.

‘Top priority’

The STV initiated the review in November after two athletes said they had faced harsh training conditions and disparaging comments about their eating habits and body weight.

“I am deeply saddened by the investigation report and apologise on behalf of the STV to those affected for what happened,” STV director Béatrice Wertli said. “The psychological and physical integrity of the athletes is our top priority.”

The STV described the resignations as a fresh start for the women’s team, which – with the exception of star Giulia Steingruber, a 2016 Olympic bronze medallist – had no realistic chance of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Heightened scrutiny

Athletes’ mental health has been under heightened scrutiny following the recent withdrawals of star US gymnast Simone Biles and Japanese tennis champion Naomi Osaka from high-profile events.

More gymnasts have been coming forward with allegations of physical and emotional abuse, including hundreds filed with Britain’s gymnastics federation.

In July the US Justice Department found the FBI dragged its feet in probing sexual abuse allegations against disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

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