Mistreatment, sexual harassment furor emerges in Greece; 22 former athletes point to systematic abuse by gymnastics coaches

Wednesday, 07 April 2021 22:11
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Another stunning round of "MeToo" related charges were leveled by 22 former - by most accounts - gymnastics athletes in Greece, alleging brutal treatment at the hands of coaches and even sexual harassment.   
The charges, reminiscent of the unprecedented USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, were included in a letter sent to the country's president and prime minister, with the accusers being both women and men.
The most egregious allegations refer to demeaning treatment, extreme diets and even beatings inflicted on athletes, even pre-teens, and going back as far as 1985.
The letter charges that the mistreatment was systematic and not separate incidents.  
Allegations refer to athletes secretly rummaging through hotels' garbage cans for food because they were starving, or female athletes made to perform splits and land with their crotch on a coach's hand, or coaches pulling young girls from their vaginas in "order to show them how to properly perform an exercise".   
A preliminary investigation was announced only hours later by the Athens prosecutor's office, while the relevant national gymnastics federation convened an extraordinary board of directors' meeting the same day - with no announcements made by the early evening. 
While many of the incidents alleged are now beyond statutes of limitations, it remains to be seen if suspects will be named and whether they are still active in the gymnastics coaching field.
A Greek version of the "MeToo" furor erupted in January with the allegations made by Olympic gold medal champion Sofia Becatorou, who said she was sexually assaulted in the late 1990s by a top federation official at the time - and who served as the federation vice-president up until the accusation was publicly made.

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