Following the Swiss gymnastics abuse scandal that blew up last year, the sports ministry wants tougher action to deal with ethics violations and to better protect young athletes in the future.
Sports Minister Viola Amherd on Tuesday presented a series of measures to tackle the issue of harassment and abusive training methods in sport.
They follow a federal investigation that confirmed cases of psychological and physical abuse of several young female gymnasts, in particular from 2010-2013, at the Swiss Gymnastics Federation’s National Performance Centre at Magglingen, canton Bern. In October 2020, eight young gymnasts had come forward to reveal their stories to the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.
The sports ministry has presented a long list of changes it wants to implement. They include the creation of a central, independent reporting office for victims of abuse and ethics violations from January 1, 2022. The office will investigate cases and report to a disciplinary commission.
The ministry says it needs to adapt and strengthen rules and legislation in Switzerland to ensure that any breaches of ethical principles are correctly punished. In future, the authorities will also work more closely with sports associations to ensure the existing ethics charter drawn up with Swiss Olympic is properly applied.
According to the results of a survey conducted by a Zurich law firm, Swiss athletes – both male and female and especially minors – are not sufficiently protected, and psychological and physical abuse and negligence occur during training sessions and competitions.
“Existing structures are insufficient with regard to the enforcement of ethical principles,” it said.
The gymnastics abuse scandal led to the dismissal of several senior coaches and officials. Trainers for the Swiss Gymnastics Federation’s (STV) women’s team resigned en masse in August 2021 following the publication of an ethics investigation that upheld athletes’ complaints of psychological abuse.
Source: Swiss Info