Dr. Margo Mountjoy, one of Canada's highest ranking
international sports representatives, with an impressive resume
that includes being a member of the IOC Medical Commission Games
Group, WADA Health Medicine and Research Committee Group, FINA
Bureau and the Chairman of ASOIF Medical Consultative Group, has
recently led a group of world leaders in sports in researching and
IOC Consensus Statement: harassment and abuse (non-accidental
violence) in sport.
The IOC Consensus Statement extends the 2007 IOC Consensus
Statement on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport. The IOC
Consensus Statement assesses evidence and the impact of other types
of abuse and harassment – psychological, physical and neglect
– delivered by various means, such as traditional and
cyber-based methods. The IOC Consensus Statement analyzes abuse and
harassment by not only coaches, but by athlete entourage members
and peer athletes.
Of particular interest is that the IOC Consensus Statement
doesn't look simply at the role and impact of abuse and
harassment on high performance athletes. It looks at all athletes
and concludes that, while all types of athletes are susceptible to
all forms of abuse, elite, disabled, child and
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) athletes are at highest
The IOC Consensus Statement contains some strong messages for
the international athletic community, including the following:
"All forms of harassment and abuse breach human rights
and may constitute a criminal offense. Therefore, there is a legal
and moral duty of care incumbent on those who organize sport, to
ensure that risks of non-accidental violence are identified and
Harms caused by harassment and sport represent a blind spot
for many sport organizations, either through fear of reputational
damage or through ignorance, silence and collusion."
Why do we care? It depends on your perspective. If
you're one to be concerned about the welfare of the athlete, as
the IOC Consensus Statement reports and as one could hypothesize
from studies of abuse outside of the sporting arena, the impact of
abuse and harassment on the athlete physically and mentally can be
significant, long term and extremely damaging. If you're simply
looking at results of the athlete or the team, abuse has been found
to impair athletic performance, be associated with doping, cheating
and increases in drop-out rates, all of which either undermine the
athlete's performance, team selection, the national sport
organization's ranking internationally, or simply result in
prohibitions from competition.
The research and body of knowledge supporting certain results in
the IOC Consensus Statement is still in its infancy. Studies and
research involving disabled athletes and those in the LGBT
communities are not as extensive as in other areas. Abuse and
harassment via cyber media, an issue I spend a good deal of time
addressing both in a sport and mainstream environment, is a
relatively young area to fully understand the consequences on
athletes. Yet it is a delivery mechanism that allows for extensive
abuse and harassment that is difficult to trace and transcends
Abuse and harassment in sport is not an easy topic to address.
High performance sport is an environment wherein the reason for
being is to be the best in the world. As such, emotions run high.
Competition between and within sport organizations and teams is
inherently intense, and personalities are often exacting and
challenging. Whatever your perspective, whether moral or
result-driven, addressing the impact of abuse on athletes is an
issue that requires the involvement of all levels of sport
organizations – international and domestic – as well as
from all participants, including coaches, management, media, staff,
athletes, peers and families, to understand and address.
The IOC Consensus Statement concludes with some suggestions on
how to prevent and address harassment and abuse. There is no
question that it will require significant changes from the top
down. Organizations such as the IOC, FIFA, FINA and the various
country-based NSOs have to lead and have to mandate change in order
to participate in sanctioned events. Changing policies is the easy
part. Changing the operations and people is where the real
I look forward to the future work of the IOC, Dr. Mountjoy and
her colleagues, and from others in the sports community as they
continue the research that will provide additional objective
evidence on the issues being faced, the damages done and, of equal
importance, tangible and practical ways to address this so that the
athletes can compete to the best of their abilities and feel safe
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Software license agreements generally require the customer to pay fees for the software license and related services, which fees are usually based upon the duration of the license and the manner in which the customer is allowed to use the software, together with applicable taxes and withholdings.
In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).