more and more victims testify

Two years ago, Nantes figure skating champion Sarah Abitbol revealed in a book the rapes and assaults she endured when she was 15 years old. His attacker: his trainer. The case had sparked a spate of revelations and awareness of the frequency of sexual abuse in sport, sometimes covered by the federations.

December 2020 Sarah Abitbol releases “Un si long silence”. it’s a deflagration in the sports world. She breaks a taboo there.

In this book, she tells for the first time about the rapes and assaults her coach inflicted on her coach in the 1990s, when the Nantes skater was barely 15 years old.

My first motivation was “this book is my last chance to be heard”, because I have spoken several times (…) but I always had the door closing, so this book was my last chance to be heard. be , I said “let’s go, let’s start and either it passes or it breaks” explains the young women, who adds

And also somehow I felt like an accomplice of my attacker because he was still in place and I couldn’t bear that anymore.

Sarah Abitbol, ​​explains the reasons that led her to write “Un si long silence”

In the months that followed, the publication of his testimony, his former trainer
will be removed from office. French ice sports federation president resigns

For two years, after Sarah Abitbol’s speeches, a crisis unit of the Ministry of Youth and Sports will collect more than 800 testimonies.

A kind of “#meetoo” of sports.

Report by Eléonore Duplay, Jean-Marc Lalier, Céline Landreau

Some of these athletes speaking today had they already tried to warn them, like Sarah Abitbol in her day?

In Corcoué-sur-Logne, south of Nantes, the Michel Mérel affair is almost emblematic.

In 2018, this motocross club leader was convicted of rape and assault.
During the trial, one of the victims realized in court that the French federation was aware of it.

Marie bears witness to her ordeal, her face is hidden, shame has not yet changed sides.

They knew in January 2011, I was a victim until March 2011

Marie, victim of her motocross trainer

“I had been a victim of sexual assault before, except that in the last moments I was actually doing motocross courses almost every weekend, and I was a victim of sexual assault practically every weekend.”

So between January 2011 and March 2011, I could have spared some sexual assaults, which became more and more

And I think, in my opinion, I was next on his list to actually be a victim of rape.”

After Michel Mérel’s trial, the young woman filed another complaint, this time against the federation, a first in France.

The complaint is still under investigation but could set a precedent.

The phenomenon of maintained coaches, despite doubts or warnings, Pierre-Emmanuel Luneau-Daurignac, investigative journalist, knows it all too well.
He spent years researching the system that allows sexual abuse in sports circles.

The coach is in an all-powerful position over young athletes and is even stronger as you ascend to the highest level. Why ? Because the child has everything to lose by resisting him.

Pierre Emmanuel Luneau Daurignac

He runs the risk of not being believed, he will be kicked out of the club, he will also disappoint his parents who have handed over to the coach some kind of delegation of authority. We know there are still many clubs where the coach says: “If you couldn’t come to training, it would be better anyway… Why? †

Gradually, however, a number of things change.

Since 2019, this football club in the heart of the Mauges has been showing the charter of the Colosse aux Pieds d’Argile association, in particular to prevent sexual abuse.

A decision made in 2019

A club coach also received training last November.
Common sense advice, but that allows you to think about ways to create a climate of trust and security.

In particular, he mentions the fact that when the children go to the showers, the adults leave them alone so that there is “minimum risk”

Since September, all sports federations can also subject their sports leaders, professionally or voluntarily, to automatic criminal record checks.
However, this procedure suffers from a lack of communication.
When our team made this report, this club had never heard of it.