Gymnast Sanne Wevers quits Dutch national team after unspecified “incident”
Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers will not be a part of the Dutch national team from this moment forth. The 2016 Rio Olympics gymnastics beam champion has said she is quitting due to “persistent, unworkable situations,” which was created by “the behavior of a teammate.” The statement by her management team did not mention the identity of the teammate.
“With a lot of pain in my heart, I have told the KNGU that I am leaving the national team with immediate effect. Because of the behavior of a teammate, there has been a persistent, unworkable situation for me. As a result of this, I cannot function properly in this team,” says the 30-year-old Wevers, who had already taken a break since the Summer Games in Tokyo. She says there had been an incident six months ago for which the teammate central to the complaint had been given an official warning.
The KNGU's technical director, Jeroen van Leeuwen, was disappointed by Wevers's decision to step out of the national selection. "I am a bit upset," said Van Leeuwen, who has only been employed by the union since the beginning of May. "It is an unnerving message. From the moment I started working and was informed about the situation, I engaged in many conversations with Sanne. I put a lot of time and energy into it and saw openings to improve the situation. It's disappointing that it ended up this way."
The teammate Wevers referred to in her statement is gymnast Vera van Pol, who spoke extensively about the situation within the national selection at the end of last year in an interview with De Limburger. Van Pol told spoke about several issues, including how her relationship with sisters Sanne and Lieke Wevers deteriorated as a result of the gymnastics crisis that arose after current and former gymnasts revealed the transgressive behavior by coaches.
Sanne's father and coach, Vincent Wevers, was previously accused of transgressive behavior by several former gymnasts. That led to a case at the ISR, the sports arbitration and disciplinary body, while gymnastics association KNGU declined to extend his contract. Wevers was acquitted earlier this year, but both the complainant and the KNGU appealed the verdict. His daughter Sanne has said that her departure from the team is separate from this difficult case.
"I don't think it's nice to mention names," says Van Leeuwen. "But what Sanne was referring to is the December 18 interview with Vera from the newspaper. If that interview had taken place during my tenure, the three of us would have sat around the table on December 19 to discuss things. Vera was open to a conversation with me, but unfortunately we were unable to actually make that happen." When asked, Van Pol said she did not want to respond.
Wevers mentioned in her statement that an external mediation session was offered, but Van Pol did not intend to participate. Van Leeuwen said that Sanne stated she might leave the team. "I indicated that I think it is a shame, because Sanne has meant a lot to our sport," said Van Leeuwen, who was informed by Wevers of her final decision on Monday afternoon. "A story always has two sides and I do think that the KNGU has tried everything to keep Sanne on the Dutch team."
Wevers says that the basics needed to function should be that you treat each other in a “safe and comfortable” manner. “For the last year, I have done everything to change this situation. Due to a lack of leadership from the KNGU, I have sadly not succeeded. I am, therefore, very disappointed in the KNGU. They have rules of conduct and manners but seemingly, considering the situation that occurred, are unable to attach consequences to them. Neither the technical director, nor the general director, nor (the chair of) the board was successful in turning the tide and fixing the team process.”
“I find it unimaginable that I have found myself in this situation, and I see no way this will be fixed any time soon,” claimed Wevers. “These are not the norms and values that I stand for. This is not a healthy top sports environment for me. “ Wevers is quitting the team but has not decided to quit yet. “I am going to use this time to think about how I am going to shape my future.”
Reporting by ANP