Gymnastics New Zealand has launched “urgent inquiries” into allegations of systemic psychological and physical abuse of its athletes, media reports said.
Stuff Media and the New Zealand Herald yesterday reported that club and elite gymnasts had complained of being verbally abused, body-shamed or forced to train while injured.
Stuff Media reported that a number had developed long-standing injuries, eating disorders or dependence on painkillers because of their treatment, with complaints going back as far as the 1990s.
Gymnastics NZ chief executive Tony Compier told Stuff that it has launched “urgent inquiries” into the allegations.
“Gymnastics NZ is not aware of any of the specific allegations, however we would deeply regret any athlete being treated in a way that made them feel bullied or unsafe,” Compier was quoted as saying. “We do not in any way condone body-shaming, physical, emotional or mental abuse, or pressure put on athletes with regards to food and weight, or performing whilst injured.”
Stuff and the Herald said that Gymnastics NZ had set up an anonymous complaints procedure and urged anyone affected to use it to raise any concerns.
The reports came a day after Sports NZ, the governing body for sport in the country, said it would launch new measures to safeguard children in sport.
The initiatives grew out of their investigation last year into the integrity of all sports in the country, where they looked at bullying and harassment.
The mistreatment of gymnasts has been in the spotlight since last month’s release of Netflix documentary Athlete A, based on a newspaper investigation into the abuse of US athletes that led to the jailing of team doctor Larry Nassar.
In recent weeks, British and Australian gymnastics authorities have also launched inquiries.
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