Proud of UCLA

The best and brightest Americans who make me hopeful for a future where everyone has equal opportunity are students.

California has been the most progressive State.

I like the Bruins theme of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as it includes anyone who identifies as any kind of minority.

Kirsty Duncan: Canada needs a National Public Inquiry into Sport

Kirsty Duncan is a former Canadian Minister of Sport and served as deputy leader of the government in the House of Commons.

Kirsty was a former gymnast who felt fat shamed when she was competing.

On LinkedIn she listed 20 Twenty Reasons Why We Need a National Public Inquiry into Sport.

I’ll list a few here. Click through to see the rest.

  • Safe sport should always be the primary goal of every sport organization and coach, ahead of winning games, tournaments, or medals.
  • Stories of abuse, harassment, and sexual assault circulated for years but some sport organizations failed to hear, see, and act.
  • Emotional, psychological, physical, verbal, and sexual abuse of young athletes abound across many sports, and some abusers have not been held to account.
  • There is a compelling precedent for holding a national public inquiry, the Commission of Inquiry into the Use of Drugs and Banned Practices Intended to Increase Athletic Performance.

training in bombed Ukraine

USAG Daniels report 2017

Right now in Canada we’re comparing the recent McLaren Report against other similar reports from other nations.

From McLaren, GymCan will be putting together ACTION targets in order to make Gymnastics training safer for all participants.

In 2017, coach Jim Holt reviewed the USAG Daniels Report which arrived with ACTION target recommendations.

I’m taking a look back at Jim’s report in order to assess the upcoming GymCan targets. Especially the methodology of reporting instances of abuse that fall short of calling the police or child protection.

It should be simple. But fair.

Victims should feel confident their complaint will be handled promptly and in confidence. Those accused should feel they are innocent until proven guilty.

Check out Jim’s 2017 report for yourself. It’s a free download.

2023 European Games – NO Russia

Poland will host European Games with 10 sports — but no Gymnastics — June 21 to July 2, 2023.

Via Google Translate.

The organizers of the 2023 European Games in Poland will not allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate, despite the position of the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC has previously announced its readiness to consider the issue of admitting Russians and Belarusians to the Asian Games and giving them the opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in Paris.

Florida athletes: when was your last period?

Did the Florida High School Athletics Association (FHSAA) vote to recommend that student athletes be required to turn in their menstrual histories to schools?

YES they did.

The FHSAA’s Board of Directors is set to render a decision on the proposal in February.

Gymnastics Canada McLaren Report – my review

By site editor Rick McCharles

  • 974 individuals completed surveys
  • 58 personal interviews were conducted
  • More than 83% of gymnasts who were surveyed indicated their overall gymnastics experience as either “Extremely Positive” or “Somewhat Positive”. For me, over 50 years a member, it’s been extremely positive as gymnast, coach, and judge.
  • 7% of gymnasts who reported their overall gymnastics experience as either “Extremely Negative” or “Somewhat Negative
  • Amongst competitive disciplines, WAG is described as being the most negative and subject to abuse

I did the survey and was one of the coaches interviewed. I immediately called out my interviewers asking if they considered themselves independent, as the Report was being funded by Gymnastics Canada.

Of course they were ready for that question. I came away convinced that Gymnastics Canada had no influence in their findings. For example, Mclaren did a similar report for Canada Soccer, paid for by Canada Soccer, and the report was damning.

IF GymCan had not contracted McLaren, right now we’d have NO report at all on how Gymnastics can be made safer for all athletes.

In fact, McLaren is more a ‘road map‘ laying out the issues as reported by stakeholders, and making recommendations as to ACTION steps. But not setting out targets as did the Daniels Report for USA Gymnastics.

It’s very lengthy (277 pages). Dense reading without any final summing up. I searched for the word “recommendation” in my PDF and there are many hits.

A total of 46 recommendations are made in 13 categories. It’s up to Sports Canada, GymCan and the Provincial organizations to follow-up with ACTION.

Here’s my own summary of key points with notes:

  • single individual (Canadian lawyer) be appointed to lead an independent multi-disciplinary team referred to collectively as the Culture Review Leadership Team (‘CRLT’) of about 10 people
  • Gymnastics Canada Athletes Commission nominate one male and one female member of the Commission to be included on the CRLT
  • dedicated section on the GymCan website communicate the Gymnastics Culture Review.
  • Improve communication

I should note that GymCan has historically had terrible communication procedures. Over the years I’ve complained that Canada is worst of all major Gymnastics nations in communicating their stories.

  • Final report should be posted on the website including a summary of key recommendations. With progress targets.
  • Safe Sport resources, tools, and clearly defined reporting procedures on the Gymnastics Culture Review website. Right now that is confusing.

Firstly — when do I phone the police? And, if not, what’s the procedure for making a complaint?

  • WAG and RG are the disciplines that have had the most number, and most serious, complaints. These disciplines require special focus. But policies should apply to all disciplines, all 222,000 participants, including recreational athletes.
  • All gymnastics clubs in Canada should be contacted for a dialogue on safety and ethics. Some of those Gyms should have personal visits on behalf of the CRLT.
  • Many individuals expressed concerns about the lack of alignment and effectiveness between local, provincial and national governance. Very true. Therefore new policies and procedures should be fixed by federal law or Gymnastics Canada.
  • at every level, transparency and communication is essential
  • we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Other sport organizations are ahead of Gymnastics in this process. The Cromwell Report on Hockey Canada, for example, published October 2022.
  • Gymnastics Canada’s organizational structure should be reviewed including roles, leadership, reporting relationships and employee performance management structures. Recall that USA Gymnastics replaced almost everyone as part of their reinvention.
  • I’ve heard many American coaches state that the 2017 Daniels Report did results in positive changes to USA Gymnastics.
  • And I was in the audience recently when Becky Downie and Danusia Francis both spoke positively about the changes made from the Whyte Review in Great Britain. Both had not been well treated by the system.
  • Is there a ‘win at all costs’ approach within high-performance? Does Own The Podium result in abuse to high performance athlete?

I hope not. For me as a coach it’s the Michael Jordan effect. When Jordan became a huge star, tens of thousands of basketball hoops were installed worldwide. More kids got more active. Healthier societies.

I’m hoping one Ellie Black, one Kyle Shewfelt, one Rosie MacLennan, does the same for Canadian kids.

  • British Gymnastics (Whyte Review) was deliberate in ensuring that recommendations were realistic and actionable versus “wide overarching recommendations.” McLaren feels 10 months is a reasonable time frame for GymCan to initiate many of these recommended changes. Other nations have taken 6 – 22 months.
  • USA (Daniels Report) called for follow-up audits on implementation. These were completed at specific intervals and published on the USA Gymnastics website.
  • Near the end of the report there are summaries of how other nations handled these same issues.

That’s it for now. I feel I’ve just scratched the surface of the McLaren recommendations. It’s well done. And I’m optimistic that changes will be made to make Gymnastics safer into the future — even if not every recommendation can be implemented.

Leave a comment on this post if you have questions or suggestions.

Note. Gymnasts for Change Canada, a victim advocacy group, is calling for an Independent Review of GymCan Leadership + Sport Culture

Some in that group feel the McLaren Report should not be trusted as it was paid for by GymCan.

Personally, I’d most like to see a federal government multi-sport inquiry into how all athletes in Canada can more safely participate and compete.

Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge have made statements sounding supportive, but have yet to do anything concrete other than refer the issue to 2 Standing Committees in the Canadian House of Commons; the Standing Committee on the Status of Women and the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Best would be if changes could be put into federal law, compelling all National Sports Governing Bodies to comply.

The international Global Athlete organization supports Gymnasts for Change Canada.

Check out the McLaren Report for yourself.

Oleg Verniaiev on the IOC

The compromise (??) by the IOC makes no sense. It’s impossible to decide which athletes in Russia support Putin’s war and which do not.

Vitaly Marinitch suspended for alcohol problems

The French Gymnastics Federation (FFG) has suspended men’s gymnastics team coach Vitaly Marinitch, who is to leave his position due to having alcohol problems, 18 months before the Paris 2024 Olympics. …

It is not the first time Marinitch has been forced to quit in disgrace, having been asked to resign in 2016 from USA Gymnastics for groping the wife of national team member Steven Legendre on two occasions at a hotel bar in 2014. …

Inside the Games

Disagree with the IOC

I’m disgusted with Thomas Bach and his weak leadership.

As some feared, the International Olympic Committee made Putin a happy dictator.

They want to allow individual athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports to participate in Paris Olympic qualification.

They add that only those who have not acted against the peace mission of the IOC by actively supporting the war in Ukraine could compete.

How about Nikita Nagornyy, for example? Head of the Young Army Cadets National Movement. Nagornyy has been publicly supporting his country’s full scale invasion of Ukraine via social media.

TG Saar, a German gymnastics club, cut him from their Bundesliga team because of his support of Putin’s invasion.

Angelina Melnikova took part in a military march, posing with a Russian army veteran, holding a cardboard box marked with the letter Z, the militaristic symbol associated with supporters of the invasion of Ukraine.

What’s the plan IOC? Are you going to allow Melnikova and not Nagorny?

WHO is going to decide?

Clearly this compromise is going to blow up the face of the Olympic movement. Russians are going to compete, return home, then brag about their support of Putin’s war.

Look what happened in Australia when Tennis decided to allow Russian and Belarusian players. Pro-Russia supporters arrive with Putin and ‘Z’ banners

The press release mentions that Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was banned — while participation of “independent athletes” was allowed at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992.

It carefully avoids including the fact that South Africa did not compete at Olympic Games from 1964 to 1988, as part of the boycott of apartheid. The South African National Olympic Committee (NOC) was expelled from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1970.

Banning South Africa helped speed the end of apartheid.

Banning Russia might help speed the end of innocent civilians being killed by Putin.

The IOC should ban Russia from Paris. Or allow all athletes to compete Paris as independents. One or the other.