In a virtual press conference on Friday, Canadian swimmer Mary-Sophie Harvey opened up with details regarding her recent claims about being drugged at a party on the last night of the FINA World Championships, which took place from June 18 to 25 in Budapest, Hungary. The press conference was monitored by Swimming Canada and was conducted both in English and French.
On Wednesday, Harvey said in an Instagram post that she was unconscious for four to six hours after being drugged, and she shared photos of bruises that she received on the night of the incident.
What Went Down
Harvey said that she was at a party with swimmers from multiple different countries, and that her friends accompanying her had helped her with trying to figure out what happened when she was unconscious. However, she claims that what happened in the window of time between when she “was okay and not okay” is still unclear, and that her friends were looking for her after she was drugged and found her on the streets.
“I know the bits that my friends told me kind of helped,” Harvey said. “I know for most of the night I was with people, and that kind of made me more secure in a way, but some of the unknowns are still a bit scary for me.”
“That’s the scary part about what’s missing from that night, I guess,” Harvey said in reference to having an unclear memory of what had happened to her.
Harvey did not file a police report on the incident, citing that “because [the incident] happened in Hungary, it’s kind of difficult do this overseas and stuff like that.”
“To be honest, I didn’t really think much about [what happened] for the first 24 hours,” Harvey said. “It was just like a blank, and I was on the plane and stuff.”
It wasn’t until Harvey got home that she found out about her bruises, noticing them while she was taking her clothes off to shower. “That’s when it kind of synced,” Harvey said. “Seeing the bruises made me feel like something happened and I didn’t know about it…It got me scared.”
An invitation to the party that Harvey was at was given to her by a Hungarian swimmer, although she did not know who they were. She also did not have any knowledge of who hosted this party, but knew that it was at the Gigi Bar in Budapest. She claimed that both swimmers and non-swimmers were at this party, something that has been confirmed to SwimSwam already by multiple sources. Swimming Canada said they knew of multiple Canadians who were at the party, but did not give names.
The event was billed as a “Swimming World Championships Afterparty,” though there is confusion over who was actually hosting the party.
Harvey said that when she woke up following being drugged, she was missing her purse, her phone, and her wallet. She went back to the bar the next morning and had all of her belongings returned to her, aside from a disposable camera, which she “thinks would have kind of helped to piece the night together.”
Not naming anyone in particular, Harvey said she heard from other swimmers who claimed they had experienced similar symptoms to hers. SwimSwam has received a report on Thursday from an individual involved at the World Championships who believes that they may have been drugged as well after a similar experience to Harvey’s. That individual says that they do not believe they drank enough to have blacked out as a result of alcohol consumption.
Swimming Canada said that Harvey attempted to get a toxicology test but could not do so, as the hospital offering the test said that it was too late. This means that she doesn’t know what substance she might have been drugged with.
In the week since Harvey returned from Budapest, her bruises have began to fade away, which she’s happy about because she “sees them like a constant reminder in a way [of what happened].” She tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday this week.
Although Harvey said she had been hurt by the drugging, as suffered a rib sprain and a small concussion and struggled to work out (especially doing upper body excersises) in her first week back, she claimed that what happened to her had more of a mental impact.
“I had a good World Championships meet, it was one of my best meets in a while, and I was very pleased with the performance,” Harvey said. At the World Championships, Harvey set a best time of 2:10.22 in the semifinals of the 200 IM and finished 8th in the finals, while also picking up a bronze medal (her first major international medal) from swimming the heats of the 4×200 free relay.”
“I remember opening the [medal] box back home and I didn’t feel like it belonged to me,” Harvey said. “I didn’t feel like the body I was in belonged to me…I think that’s the sad part about it because this wonderful meet I had was tarnished by this event and it was just a rollercoaster of emotions.”
However, Harvey still thinks that she has gotten better mentally since when she first found out she was drugged.
“I think the Mary from last week wouldn’t have been able to talk to all of you guys and post what she did on Wednesday,” Harvey said. “It’s just day by day to kind of cope with it and be okay with it, and sharing my story also made me realize that I’m not the only one in this situation, which is sad but I think it helped people and it also helped me to see that we are not alone in this and it doesn’t define us.”
In her Instagram post, Harvey said that she felt judgement from other people after speaking out about being drugged. When asked to clarify what that meant, she said that there were many people who dismissed her struggles as just “drinking too much”.
Harvey said that people told her “You probably just drank too much, and maybe next time you’ll think about this and be more careful”.
“In the back of my mind…I don’t feel like that happened,” Harvey said referring to the accusations people made about her being too drunk. “I was in control the whole time until I couldn’t recall anything.” Harvey stated that she had a total of four drinks that night.
Because people told her she was just drunk, Harvey said she felt felt shame for what happened, and went into a negative cycle of telling herself that she was “crazy” and that her drugging was preventable. However, she stated that when she talked to other people that were there at the party, she realized that she was “not crazy”.
Resources And Help
Upon returning home, Harvey called a victim hotline specifically made for situations like hers and was “struck by the lack of resources victims have for these [cases].” She said that the person on the hotline told her there were only two places in Montreal that offered care. She then claimed that she left a message to one of these places to make an appointment, but she had to wait two days for them to respond and by that time it was too late for her to get proper treatment for what happened to her.
“This makes me sad because for people who actually got violated and stuff, you shouldn’t have to wait two days to get treatment because it’s too late.” Harvey said.
When asked about preventative measures that Swimming Canada would take so that other athletes wouldn’t be harmed in the future, they responded saying that they were in the process of figuring things out, and that what happened to Mary would be brought up in team meetings in the future. There was also an email sent out by the organization saying that Mary was supported and that people needed to be careful.
“I think it’s important not to portray this as Mary’s fault…the safety of our current team members is our first and foremost priority.” Nathan White, the spokesperson for Swimming Canada said. ”
“The reaction in the moment was her safety and medical treatment,” White said.” Since then, it’s been offering her support…our team doctors, myself, have helped her with the media demand and she’s heard from our top executives as well up to the CEO…We are just trying to her manage and get back to living her normal life and getting ready for the Commonwealth Games.”
In a statement that was previously sent to SwimSwam, Swimming Canada said they were conducting an investigation on the incident and had filed a report to an independent SafeSport officer. FINA also said they were in contact with Swimming Canada and the Local Organising Comittee.