Dutch triathletes say they faced psychological, physical abuse
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Dutch triathletes say they were psychologically and physically abused at the National Triathlon Training Center (NTC) in the past. Ten former athletes told their story to newspaper Trouw on Friday.
Earlier this year, abuses in the gymnastics world came to light, followed this week by signals from the dance world through whistleblower Kim Koumans. During a subsequent debate in parliament, caretaker State Secretary Paul Blokhuis (Public Health and Sport) announced, among other things, that there will be an independent investigation into border-crossing behavior within top sport.
The triathletes told Trouw, among other things, that the pressure to perform was extremely high, with a strong compulsion to lose weight. Athletes faced depression, eating disorders, chronic body aches, and suicidal tendencies.
Rembert Groenman, director of the Dutch Triathlon Association (NTB), told Trouw that you cannot compare the abuses with the stories from the gymnastics world. He did acknowledge that "no doubt things are happening that are not nice for our athletes" at the training center in Sittard, "and we as a federation take them very seriously."
27-year-old Charissa Zijlstra is one of the athletes who told her story in the newspaper. "I secretly bought weight loss pills and kept it from my parents and trainers. The emphasis was so much on our weight that I was only concerned with losing weight while training four times a day," she said.
Earlier this year, the NTB commissioned an independent investigation at the insistence of several top athletes at the Center for Safe Sports in the Netherlands. The Fijbes Consultancy & Training agency did the research, and the report will be published next week.
"If the report indicates that mistakes were made at the NTC, then we must offer a generous apology. And look each other straight in the eye. Then, as an association, we can get to work on this as soon as possible," director Groenman said to Trouw.
Reporting by ANP.