ASC apologises to abused gymnasts

10 May 2021 | Sports

NAMPA /AFP

Australia's Sports Commission (ASC) Friday said it was "truly sorry" and had set up an independent support service after a damning inquiry found evidence of widespread abuse, sexism, and racism in gymnastics.

The commission, the key Australian government agency responsible for supporting and investing in sport, apologised in the wake of the independent report this week that detailed a culture that tolerated emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse.

It also highlighted medical negligence and body-shaming directed at young gymnasts over decades.

"We know incidents and practices occurred that are not acceptable. For this, we are truly sorry," the ASC said in a statement.

"We admire the courage of people who have come forward to share their stories. We assure you, we are listening and you have been heard. We have begun reaching out personally to athletes to offer our support."

The Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry, which received hundreds of submissions, was launched after local athletes took to social media to comment on the documentary "Athlete A", regarding former American gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

Nassar was found guilty of sexually assaulting at least 265 identified victims over two decades.

A number of the women spoke to the inquiry about negative experiences during their time at the high-performance Australian Institute of Sport, which comes under the commission's umbrella.

In response, the ASC said it had established a confidential and independent support service, available to any former AIS athletes across all sports to share their experiences and seek help.

"We acknowledge our past so we can continue to lead Australian sport into the future," the ASC added.

Gymnastics Australia has already "unreservedly" apologised.

The world of gymnastics has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent times.

In addition to Nassar, accusations of abuse have also made headlines in Britain, while in Greece former gymnasts complained of having suffered decades of abuse "akin to torture" at the hands of one of their coaches.

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