Italian sport boss issues ‘apology’ after athletes were ‘humiliated’ over their weight

Several ex-gymnasts have expressed in recent days the psychological pressures and « humiliations » suffered when they played for the national team.

The boss of the Italian Olympic movement Giovanni Malago presented on Monday “excuses» to ex-gymnasts who recently denounced psychological pressures and «humiliationwhen they played for the national team, about their weight and their diet.

« As President of the Olympic Committee (Coni) and point of reference for Italian sport, I feel the duty to apologize to all the athletes and ex-athletes who have suffered due to inappropriate behaviorhe said in an interview with La Repubblica.

Three former rhythmic gymnastics champions recounted their suffering when they were in the federal system last week, in testimonies published in La Repubblica. They described countless weigh-ins and hurtful remarks and even « humiliationin front of others. The first to speak, Nina Corradini, 19, had denounced « violence and humiliation so as not to make us eat« . She left the national team last year. Another, Anna Basta, 21, double world champion, said she had thought twice about suicide.

As for Giulia Galtarossa, 31, two-time world champion too, she had indicated that she had informed her coaches of her discomfort, but « they all minimized the problem » according to her.

Following them, many other ex-gymnasts had testified in the country and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Andrea Abodi, had summoned Mr. Malago last Wednesday as well as the president of the Gymnastics Federation, Gherardo Tecchi. « Those who made mistakes, if any, will pay« , still assures the boss of Coni to the Repubblica, while specifying that he « need to understand if these are just individual mistakes or if there was a system that caused them to make a mistake« .

« The question of weight is one of the crucial aspects of gymnastics, more so than in other sports. A certain degree of rigor and +hardness+ is inevitable. It’s something else when you cross the yellow line and go from rigor to violence, humiliation, vexation“, he adds.

The Italian Gymnastics Federation invited last week “all gymnasts, coaches and leaders, to introduce themselvesto testify. His boss had assured that the « subject will be (it) examined by the competent authorities in a careful manner« .

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