Swimming Canada released a statement this week supporting athlete safety recommendations brought public by four abuse victims of a former ski coach.
Bertrand Charest was convicted of abusing young competitive skiers in the 1990s. Four of his victims have come forward recently, calling for new programs and policies aimed at athlete safety. Per the CBC, Amélie-Frédérique Gagnon, Gail Kelly, Anna Prchal and Geneviève Simard came forward this week after a court lifted a publication ban on their names last Friday. The four are calling for a number of reforms across sports to help protect young athletes. According to the CBC:
- A “cross-federation commitment to athlete safety”
- Funding for a program that would include “training, new policies and procedures” and would establish independent safety officers
- Government-mandated safety programs within sports federations
- A ‘rule of two’ that would prevent any young athlete from being alone with a coach, sports psychologist or administrator for any significant length of time
Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi released a statement this week supporting those measures and calling on the Canadian government to start implementing the former skiers suggestions. Here is the full Swimming Canada statement:
“Swimming Canada applauds the former members of the national ski team for their courage to come forward and share their stories and goals for a safer sport system. These women represent many past victims and we hope this will inspire others to speak and approach the appropriate authorities. Strengthening the overall safety for participants and specifically children or people at risk is the right thing to do and Swimming Canada supports the call for action. We encourage the Government of Canada and its partners to begin an extensive consultation, analysis and implementation process. We encourage all sports to look at their policies and procedures and find ways to improve. Swimming Canada is dedicated to this effort through our Safe Sport program and will never stop seeking opportunities to provide a fun, healthy, inclusive and safe environment. Our training and competitive environments must allow athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers to know they are safe, and be treated with respect and dignity.
We thank the athletes, B2Ten, the Respect in Sport Group, the Coaching Association of Canada, the Sport Dispute and Resolution Centre of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection for bringing this critical topic to the forefront. We look forward to the initiatives that come from what these brave athletes have inspired.”