'We just want a change': Former gymnast details alleged abuse within the sport in class action lawsuit

‘We just want a change’: Former gymnast details alleged abuse within the sport in class action lawsuit

Toronto –

Warning: Some readers may find the details of this story disturbing.

For Amelia Klein, gymnastics has always been a part of her life. Trained since the age of two, she quickly reached national levels at the age of six, realizing her dreams as a professional athlete. However, she says her aspirations have been put on hold after years of verbal and physical abuse in sports.

Klein is among several former gymnasts who have filed a class action lawsuit over allegations of physical and sexual assault on programs in Gymnastics Canada. The regional governing bodies of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec were also named in the lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

“We just want a change in the sport,” Klein told CTV News Wednesday in an interview detailing her alleged experience under coaches Vladimir and Svetlana Lachin at the Omega Gymnastics Center in British Columbia.

In the last three years of her career, Klein claims that these coaches would psychologically and physically abuse gymnasts by calling them names or yelling at them for any mistakes made during training. Klein once said that she overexerted herself and broke her hamstrings.

“One of my trainers actually stretched my leg so hard that I tore my hamstring out of my pelvis, and it took part of my pelvis with it, so it was an avulsion fracture,” she said.

She also claimed that the gymnasts were subjected to weekly general weights where any weight gain would be shameful.

At age 13, Klein reached a breaking point with the sport when she said her coach forced her to try jumping after being injured for several weeks.

“I knew I couldn’t do it. He knew I couldn’t do it. But he insisted that I do it the day before the competition and he yelled at me and said I have to do it and compete the next day.”

After trying the movement several times, often landing on her head, she said she was worried she might break her neck. Instead of being medically examined, Klein said she was told she couldn’t complete the move because she weighed too much.

She said that while a report was sent to Gymnastics BC, the investigation was never completed, leaving the coaches to continue their careers over the next two decades without repercussions.

Cline publicly shared her allegations in a blog post after being inspired by the Netflix documentary Sports A, which followed the sexual assault inside USA gymnastics by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Her post garnered responses from several gymnasts who began sharing their allegations of abuse within the sport.

“It’s not really about me at all. It’s really just a conduit for what really are the hundreds of voices calling for change,” Klein said.

In March, an open letter collecting more than 400 signatures, including Cline, was sent to Sport Canada to demand a third-party investigation into the allegations. Canadian Sports Minister Pascal St Ong has pledged an independent investigation by late spring, but Klein said no real action has been taken.

The lawsuit, backed by more than a dozen former gymnasts, not only demands that the physical and mental health of athletes be prioritized, but also that health costs be covered.

Klein, including herself, said, “One of the purposes of the lawsuit is to ensure that people who have been harmed and who are experiencing ongoing trauma and chronic pain get the treatment they need.” She continues to deal with the pain of her injuries 20 years later.

“We just want to see the next generation of young gymnasts safe in the sport because we love it.”

As of Wednesday evening, Canadian Gymnastics told CTV News that a statement from the organization is expected on Thursday.

2022-05-12 01:34:00

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