The Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, announced Sunday night that an investigation would be opened after the broadcast in the program Stade 2 of testimonies of six former gymnasts of the France team denouncing abuse. Six former gymnasts, four of whom spoke with their faces uncovered, reported physical or psychological abuse by a senior leader of the artistic gymnastics France team and a coach.

"What is needed is that we can open an investigation and we will do it tomorrow (Monday) morning with the teams of the Ministry of Sports," responded the minister on the plateau of Stade 2. For the time being, the two persons targeted by these testimonies have not received any criminal or disciplinary sanctions and France Télévisions has not disclosed their identity.

"You're a goat, you suck, you're good for nothing"

The investigation aired Sunday night reports that the coach was publicly denounced in 2007 for his methods in Switzerland, before he officiated in the France team, and was implicated in 2019 by a Mexican gymnast. The second person targeted is "a woman (...), senior manager of the France team of gym for fifteen years".

Former gymnast now 26 years old, Valentine Sabatou explains in front of the camera to have been forced at 16 years old to participate in a demonstration despite a fracture in the ankle, while the coach was "aware" of this injury. Marine Petit, 15 at the time, says she was slapped by the senior official after participating in a party around silver medalist Thomas Bouhail at the Beijing Games in 2008.

"You're a goat, you suck, you're good for nothing (...) When are you going to stop getting fat? Clara Della Vedova denounces the many insults she has suffered, especially on her weight - like the other two athletes who speak on condition of anonymity. The climate was so deleterious that after injuring an Achilles tendon before the London 2012 Games, she said she felt "a huge relief, because it was all over".

The coach defends himself

The coach in question defended himself in writing to France Télé. If he disputes Valentine Sabatou's version concerning his injury, he admits to having said hurtful words. The Federation has not yet reacted to the report, but Amélie Oudéa-Castéra has assured that it will summon its president, James Blateau, as well as the national technical director.

  • Sport
  • Gymnastics
  • Violence
  • Amélie Oudéa-Castéra