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ATHLETE STORIES






            little girls who briefly found    training. In Britain, reports    come after the success of the
 THE TOXIC  teenagers and adults because      reports include brutally hard    given the nature of politics, it
            self-confidence through sport
                                              started to surface in 2017 of
                                                                               #MeToo movement in 2016.
            became deeply self-loathing
                                              wide-spread bullying. These
                                                                               This has become political, and
 THE TOXIC
            the man who was supposed
                                              training practices and focused
                                                                               has also become polarised.
            to help them do the sport they
                                              inducements for girls as
                                                                                  Hockey Australia has
            loved instead molested them,
                                              young as 13 to lose up to 6kg.
                                                                               endured a miserable time
            over and over again.”
               The same predatory
                                                                               Rio 2016, facing accusations of
                                              by trainers and their injuries
            behaviour existed in English      Gymnasts alleged being hit       since the disappointment of
                                              ignored. The same stories can
                                                                               their own culture of bullying,
            football in the 1980s, where      be seen in Australia, where      cliques and omerta. The usual
            Barry Bennell used his standing
                                              in May the Australian Human
                                                                               pattern for toxic environments
 SI         as a scout and coach for a        Rights Commission concluded      is depressingly evident. Before
 SIDE OF SPORTDE OF SPORT
            number of clubs. Young boys,
                                                                               being dismissed earlier this
                                              its damning report. It found a
            hopeful of a career in football,
                                                                               year, Hockeyroos coach
                                              culture of physical, emotional
            saw him as the path to their
                                                                               Paul Gaudoin claimed that
                                              and sexual abuse which
            dreams. He would lavish them
            with his attention, until the     permeated the sport. This        there was no real merit to
                                                                               the stories of toxicity within
                                              was caused by “a persistent
 By Tim Mottram   day that he molested them.   use of authoritarian or highly   the team. What is perhaps
            Hundreds of boys suffered         disciplinary coaching styles”,   more interesting were the
 hat would   encapsulates the concept that   something to lose: and in any   the same fate, and it was   and the gender disparity was   words from former coach
 you suffer for   while sporting institutions are   system that is based on merit,   universally understood that if   also seen as a reason for the   Ray Charlesworth. Talking
 your dreams?   vital to developing sporting   the managers and coaches   they made a fuss, their careers   toxicity. Gymnastics Australia   to AAP, he said that he didn’t
 WOver the past   prowess, they could also be   hold all the cards.   would be over before they   has made a global apology and   “know how you get people to
 few years, thousands of elite   used to demean and abuse.   A quick survey of the most   began. The culture of mass   is taking steps to amend the   (reach their potential) without
 athletes have started telling   Keynote speaker Sanjara Kiren   recent scandals reveals this   silence existed until he was   issue.   challenging them. If that’s
 their stories, how they   was joined by an array of   pattern.   finally brought to justice in   It is clear that in these   bullying, then I’m out of my
 have been racially insulted,   sporting greats on the panel,   2018. By then, the damage was   cases the “win at all costs”   time”.
 shamed, bullied and abused.   and the takeaways showed that   A culture of fear   done.   model has actually given way   There is always a risk when
 The stories are in equal parts   there is a willingness to confront   can only be created   These are, of course, the   to something much darker.   addressing imbalances that
 heart-rending and enraging,   toxic cultures head on.   when there is   most extreme and horrific of   The naked aggression which   the old-guard will find ways to
 as in case after case, high-  One of the key findings   something to lose:   cases. These monsters have   traditionally fits our model   diminish the experiences of
 profile and powerful men   was that the very structure of   and in any system   ended lives. But there are   of the supreme sporting   others. This, simply put, is how
 prey on young people,   sporting institutions leaves   that is based on   plenty of examples where the   champion can come from a   power works. But with so many
 leveraging their positions to   them open to mismanagement   merit, the managers   behaviour of people in power   place of self-serving narcissism,   lives ruined, it is imperative
 create a culture of fear and   or slackness regarding the   and coaches hold all   do not have to break the law   where the needs of others are   that sport stops looking for
 compliance.   care of young people. All are   the cards.   to make young people suffer   subsumed by their own need   excuses and starts doing what
 Just how to address this   top-down entities, so they   intensely.   to achieve.   it always claims to do: to make
 black stain on international   are effectively only as good   With the 2020 release of   Returning to gymnastics,   There is an underlying   people better.
 sport is a matter of some   as the people who run them.   the documentary Athlete A,   federations around the world   current to this story. It is no
 serious soul-searching. On May   The antidote is education,   global gymnastics was held up   have been flayed for the   mistake that these allegations
 27th, Australia took a vital step   communication and strict   as a model for how sport can   treatment of the people under   and investigations have
 towards making sport a safer   guidelines. Policies need to be   become a nightmare. Larry
 place.   drawn up and adhered to, and   Nassar abused hundreds,
 Co-sponsored by Sportscover   whistle-blowers should be safe   possibly thousands, of   One of the key findings was that the very structure
 Australia, the 2021 National   from recrimination.   gymnasts over decades. He   of sporting institutions leaves them open to
 Sport Integrity Forum took   It is this final issue that   took advantage of his standing
 place. Victoria University and   has been at the heart of   in the sport to groom and   mismanagement or slackness regarding the care of
 Sport Australia Hall of Fame   the range of scandals that   abuse these girls, whose
 hosted the event using the   have gripped sport over the   parents saw only his reputation   young people. All are top-down entities, so they are
 tagline “it takes a sporting   decades. A culture of fear can   within the sport. According to   effectively only as good as the people who run them.
 village to raise a child”, which   only be created when there is   a report in The Guardian, “shy




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