Plan introduced to counter transgressive behaviour in Flemish gymnastics
After several testimonies about psychological transgression, the Flemish Gymnastics Federation (Gymfed) has introduced a comprehensive plan against transgressive behaviour in the sport.
"Step by step, work has been done on a stronger integrity policy," says Flemish Minister of Sports Ben Weyts. "This should ensure that young athletes can all feel safe within their own clubs."
In the spring of 2021, an independent investigation commission issued its conclusions and recommendations, after an investigation into testimonies about psychological cross-border behaviour in the world of gymnastics. It was then up to Gymfed to strengthen its own integrity policy. A special task force with 14 members - including internal and external experts and representatives of the athletes, parents and ex-gymnasts - took up that assignment.
Now, a comprehensive plan is ready against transgressive behaviour in the gymnastics world. Gymfed has bundled hundreds of actions into one overall plan that addresses all aspects of the sport. The theme is an improved, more healthy and more positive gymnastics culture, with a focus on better and more transparent agreements and improved communication.
Various measures will be introduced. This includes better training for trainers with an increased focus on soft skills and the athlete’s welfare, a healthier balance between sports and school, and more attention to the physical and mental well-being of athletes. A transparent reporting procedure will also be introduced, in which every report is handled by a neutral and independent team.
"Yes, a lot has gone wrong: wounds have been inflicted. But based on the events of the past, we will draw lessons for the future and ensure a better sport," comments Weyts. "The whole process must be cleansing for gymnastics, but it must also contribute to more safety and integrity in all sports.”
Belgian olympic champion Nina Derwael during the individual uneven bars final event on the tenth day of the 'Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games' in Tokyo, Japan. - © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS