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WAIS faces serious allegations of gymnast abuse

Liam Bartlett
Article image for WAIS faces serious allegations of gymnast abuse

The country’s sporting regulator will investigate allegations of historical mistreatment of gymnasts at the Western Australian Institute of Sport.

Last September up to 20 ex-gymnasts alleged they were subjected to emotional and physical abuse while training at the institute.

WAIS confirmed some of the allegations date back 30-years and include body shaming, punitive coaching methods and bullying.

Some of the staff facing the allegations still work for WAIS, however their names have not been revealed.

The allegations were made a month after Gymnastics Australia engaged the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct an unrelated independent review into the culture of the sport nation-wide.

Speaking to 6PR’s Liam Bartlett on Friday, former WAIS gymnast Joni Whale said she quit the sport at 14 following years of mistreatment.

“In January 1995 I broke down in front of my parents and advised them I couldn’t go back into the gym due to the treatment that I had been receiving,” she said.

“I was accused of faking injuries, I was often referred to as baby, referred to as being immature.”

Former WAIS gymnast Julia Murcia began training in the program at the age of seven and said she spent up to 35 hours a week in the gym.

“When my parents dropped me off at the gym, they were expecting that I would be treated with respect and not subjected to the kind of emotional abuse that we would,” she said.

“It was ongoing sustained emotional abuse.

“I was sworn at and called a f****** little cow when I was nine, many of the girls were called fat, lazy, stupid.

“What happened to us was not right.”

WAIS Chief Executive Officer, Steven Lawrence, said that the institute is treating the complainants’ with the utmost seriousness.

“There is always more than one side to a story, and there is clearly another side here and we need to set up a process that allows everybody who was involved in the program to put their side forward.”

Click play to hear more. 

(Photo: iStock by Getty Images.) 

 

Liam Bartlett
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