The federal government is freezing funding for Gymnastics Canada amid a flurry of abuse allegations and growing calls by athletes to investigate the complaints.
Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge said Gymnastics Canada needs to step up its commitment to an independent, third-party investigation before the funds can be restored.
“A few days ago, I notified GymCan that they needed to accelerate their process to sign up with OSIC, and that funding would be suspended until they met that requirement,” she told Global News in an emailed statement on Friday.
‘Very toxic environment’: Canadian gymnasts allege years of abuse, call for action
Canada’s first sport integrity commissioner, Sarah-Eve Pelletier, launched the OSIC in May. Her office has been tasked with receiving complaints about alleged maltreatment in sports and where necessary, launch independent investigations.
In an open letter to the sports minster on Thursday, hundreds of Canadian gymnasts pressed for an independent third-party investigation to address what they called a “systemic culture of abuse” in the sport.
“We need urgent action now to stop the toxic abuse in the sport,” the letter said, asking the minister, “How many more children need to be abused before you act?”
In March, another open letter was addressed to Sport Canada’s director general Vicki Walker, Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) president Trisha Smith and Gymnastics Canada CEO Ian Moss.
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In that letter, which sought the support of more than 400 athletes, gymnasts said the fear of retribution had prevented them from speaking out for nearly a decade.
In previous interviews with Global News, former Canadian gymnasts said they had to face constant weight shaming, were told they were “too fat” and were asked to lose weight.
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St-Onge said in her statement Friday she understands “the sense of urgency that motivates these athletes” and shared their desire for meaningful change.
“Since my appointment, my priority has been to work with the tools at my disposal and find solutions that encompass our sport system,” she added.
More to come…
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