‘Self-reg­u­la­tion is not work­ing’

Canada fall­ing be­hind on polic­ing abuse and ha­rass­ment in sports, new study finds

StarMetro Vancouver - - SPORTS - Lori Ewing

Shel­don Kennedy’s sex­ual abuse case against hockey coach Gra­ham James rocked Canadian sport in the late 1990s, and Canada stepped up, writ­ing one of the strong­est sex­ual ha­rass­ment and abuse poli­cies in the world, ex­perts say.

But 20 years later, most be­lieve Canada has fallen asleep on the job. When it comes to pro­tect­ing ath­letes, the coun­try now lags be­hind the U.S., Aus­tralia and the United King­dom, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port.

The on­go­ing trial of gym­nas­tics coach Dave Brubaker plus high-pro­file cases in­volv­ing Alpine Canada and the Canadian Olympic Com­mit­tee are proof.

What’s go­ing on when the lights of Canada’s are­nas and gym­na­si­ums are dimmed? And why have peo­ple re­mained mum about it?

“What we had was re­ally pro­gres­sive in the mid-’90s to early 2000s, and it’s just be­come stale,” said Peter Don­nelly, a ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sor from the Univer­sity of Toronto.

“Now we know a lot more about the way abuse oc­curs in sport. We have a much bet­ter sense of how tracked the ath­letes are once they’re in the sys­tem.

When their par­ents have com­mit­ted so much money and time to it, when very of­ten the abuser has groomed their par­ents, kids and young adults feel trapped. They’re get­ting closer to their dream and this is hap­pen­ing to them.”

Brubaker is the for­mer coach of the na­tional women’s

gym­nas­tics team. He’s pleaded not guilty to sex­ual as­sault and in­vi­ta­tion to sex­ual touch­ing at a trial that will re­sume next month in Sar­nia, Ont.

In June, Canada’s Sport Min­is­ter Kirsty Dun­can an­nounced that na­tional sports or­ga­ni­za­tions (NSOS) would lose fund­ing if they didn’t im­me­di­ately dis­close to her of­fice any al­le­ga­tions of abuse or ha­rass­ment. She also said hav­ing an in­de­pen­dent third

party in­ves­ti­gate all al­le­ga­tions of abuse will be a re­quire­ment for govern­ment fund­ing.

In their re­cent paper, how­ever, Don­nelly and fel­low U of T pro­fes­sor Gretchen Kerr say those poli­cies have been in place since 1996 as part of the Sport Canada Ac­count­abil­ity Frame­work. They’re just not be­ing ad­e­quately ap­plied.

Ex­am­ples of high-pro­file cases in Canada at thes­tar.com/sports

ROBINS/THE CANADIAN PRESS

For­mer gym­nas­tics coach Dave Brubaker, left, leaves the court house with his lawyer Pa­trick Ducharme in Sar­nia, Ont., Oct. 23.GE­OFF

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