Gymnasts subjected to abuse, mistreatment could be eligible for €5,000 compensation
The integrity and ethics advisory committee tasked with investigating abuse in gymnastics believes that top gymnasts who were systematically exposed to physical, psychological, and emotional maltreatment for years should receive an amount of 5,000 euros as "recognition of that suffering."
This advice follows the report "Unequal Layers," which earlier this year showed that many gymnasts were victims of transgressive behavior from their trainers, among others. For example, the former national coach of the Dutch gymnastic team, Geren Wiersma, was recently found guilty of inappropriate conduct.
The Dutch Olympic Committee and national sports association, NOC*NSF, asked the advisory committee to consider how victimized gymnasts should be compensated in response to the Unequal Layers report that identified abuse in gymnastics.
"There is no hierarchy in suffering, no way to say that what happened to one person is less bad than the other," said the committee.
The committee is aware that NOC *NSF has not previously awarded damages after investigations into undesirable behaviour. "Compensation is at least in order in recognition of the suffering that has been caused," said the committee. It advised seeking out an institution that has experience in distributing comparable benefits, such as Slachtofferhulp Nederland, which collectively provides compensation to victims of crimes, tragedies, and disasters.
In determining the amount, the committee was guided by, among other things, previous matters outside sport, such as the compensation that victims of systematic domestic violence receive. The arrangement that has been made for victims of violence in the Catholic Church has also been included. The committee spoke in favor of better aftercare and customization and stated emphatically that the amount of 5,000 euros is separate from any additional costs incurred, and which are not covered by insurance.
NOC*NSF chair Anneke van Zanen-Nieberg apologized on behalf of the sports organization to athletes who have been the victims of transgressive behavior. "There were reports before 2010. We could and should have seen it. We failed to check whether reports had a structural background and whether recommendations were followed. We saw things as individual trees, but did not see the whole forest. We sincerely apologize to the athletes for this," said Van Zanen, who said they will adopt the recommendations.
"With this we give recognition to the former gymnasts for the suffering suffered. It is now important that we set up and implement this arrangement quickly and carefully together with the gymnastics association KNGU."
The sports umbrella organization and gymnastics union KNGU previously said they intend to follow the committee's advice. The NOC*NSF will provide financial assistance if KNGU does not have sufficient reserves. The committee said that the KNGU, NOC *NSF and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport must quickly determine among themselves who contributes what.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.