I noticed something about scandals in the gymnastics world. Sports federations have a monopoly. There appears to be a lack of oversight, a lack of consequences, and a lack of competition or alternatives. Athletes have no choice if they want to exercise to a certain level. They automatically become members of the National Sports Federation and must assume that protecting the members is their first priority.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation (KNGU) for at least decades. Currently, the world of gymnastics is turned upside down due to touching stories and In-depth search This showed that two-thirds of the gymnasts were in contact with unacceptable behavior. But this was nothing new.
This isn’t even the first time it’s been published in national news. And this was also known in the world of gymnastics for a long time. How could this happen? How did the union escape everything in the past?
I think the answer is that controlling, supervising and facilitating sports federations is going wrong. There were no consequences for KNGU after the scandals. It was all too easy to pretend there was nothing wrong and the athletes kept coming because there was no other option.
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This is not the first time that we have witnessed this occurrence. In America, many people have called for the American Gymnastics Federation to be revoked in response to the horrific stories of violations that have occurred there. Many sponsors of the Union withdrew, people were fired or had to leave, and within a short period there were three different directors, and the Union practically bankrupted.
But there is still. However, gymnasts such as Simon Biles, who had been sexually assaulted by a team doctor appointed by that association and whose actions were subsequently concealed by that association, must still continue to represent the federation in major competitions around the world.
How incredibly painful it is to still have to perform for a union that has badly failed and is responsible for hundreds of sexual assault victims.
As a former high-profile gymnast and victim of psychological and physical abuse, I have no confidence that much will change within the current structure.
As a former high-profile gymnast in both the Netherlands and Sweden, and a victim of psychological and physical abuse in the gym, I have no confidence that much will change for future gymnasts within the current structure.
What we have learned from the past and even the initial reactions of the National Trade Union Confederation to the suspicion of abuse is either that it has been covered up, or that big words are being used that affect elite athletes but the problem does not remain at the fore. Prevents or fights. I seriously doubt whether the current national union federation is qualified to bring about the necessary changes.
Recommendations contained in the Verinorm report Uneven shelves It is comprehensive and clear, but does not look critically at the structure in which it operates. Recommendation: “KNGU controlling role: increasing the hold on coaches and clubs”, can only be successful if KNGU has the confidence of the athletes. The fact that a number of trainers who were hired by the National Federation of Trade Unions have been suspended as a result of allegations of abuse says enough about how little the federation has control over these coaches.
Perhaps the best solution is to see how the union can be restructured. Recommendation C: “Providing conditions for municipalities” can play a role, but it requires municipalities to have the manpower and financial resources to be able to achieve this.
There should be more direct control of clubs at all levels. It must be ensured that the clubs have a good example. It must be ensured that sports federations have clearer control, or that athletes have the option to be active without being members of a high-level association or even choosing an alternate federation.
Of course this goes hand in hand with the global structure in which sports federations operate, because this is a global problem. So it might not be a bad idea for the IOC to take a critical look at itself and the current structure to ensure that these types of crimes can no longer occur and that athletes do not have to represent a federation they do not support. .
However, we must start from where we have power, that is within our own structure and with our unions. There has to be talks about how we can structure the federations in a way that the athletes are protected and the federations controlled.
Violations must be punished clearly. It should be done at the national level, and not just for the national trade union federation. Because before we know it, the next sport comes with massive scandals and more kids who are affected for the rest of their lives because they pursued their talents and passions.