French officials have over the past year ran a fact-finding probe to find out just how deep runs the issue of sexual violence in sports, and the answer is horrifying.
The French sports ministery said Friday that so far, more than 400 coaches, teachers and others have been accused of either sexually abusing teenagers or covering up such crimes.
Most of the victims are under 15 and the abuse cases include sexual assault, harassment or other kinds of violence of this nature.
The officials have so far filed criminal lawsuits against 60 people while more than 100 others have been temporarily or permanently removed from their posts.
Investigations into other cases are ongoing, the ministry said.
The accusations target a total of 48 sports federations, further proof of the scale of the issue.
Of those accused, 96% are men while 83% of the victims were women or girls -63% of them under 15, according to the report.
The campaign was launched in February 2020 after 10-time French skating champion Sarah Abitbol revealed in a book that she was raped by coach Gilles Beyer from 1990-92, when she was a teen. Beyer was handed preliminary charges of sexual assault and the investigation is ongoing.
More athletes came forward after that, prompting the sports ministry to set up a dedicated platform for athletes’ testimonies.
Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu, a former swimming champion, has also described her own experiences facing sexism, saying French mindsets need to be changed with regards to women’s rights in the world of sports.
Among the well-know athletes was former tennis champion Isabelle Demongeot, who explained the “battle” she faced among the public and colleagues after accusing her coach of rape.
Former hammer thrower Catherine Moyon de Beacque, who first spoke out about abuse in 1991, said the action must be pursued “at the highest level of the state.”