Bullying, remarks about weight, mockery ...: the trial for moral harassment of two coaches from the France gymnastics center in Marseille, a high-level structure, targeted by the complaints of five young sportswomen, began this Friday.
The five young girls, all minors at the time of the events and three of whom were present at the hearing on Friday before the Marseille criminal court, did not all evolve at the Pôle France at the same time but they describe the same bullying, humiliating exercises, wounds (these “
”, when the flesh of the hands is raw from rubbing), drastic diets, hurtful spades and vulgar remarks.
Vincent Pateau, technical director of the France pole in Marseille, in a navy blue polo shirt, short hair and three-day beard is also present at the hearing but did not make a statement before entering the room.
After his trial, another coach of this structure, Pierre Ettel, now responsible for a training center for sports educators, is due to appear in the afternoon.
He will also have to answer for moral harassment because one of the girls who filed a complaint against Mr. Pateau also filed a complaint against him.
The cases of the two men were not joined by justice.
Their lawsuits echo the many scandals that have rocked gymnastics worldwide in recent years, the most resounding of which erupted around Larry Nassar, named after the former doctor of the American team.
Larry Nassar, the former doctor of the American gymnastics team.
In 2018, this former osteopath and therapist was found guilty of sexually assaulting at least 265 top gymnasts and received cumulative sentences of at least 140 years in prison.
Since this case, disproportionate to that judged in Marseille on Friday in particular, gymnasts from all over the world have taken the floor to denounce abusive practices, bringing to light a toxic culture within their discipline.
In January for example, the technical director of the Italian national rhythmic gymnastics team Emanuela Maccarani was suspended by her federation, a few months after the testimonies of several ex-gymnasts denouncing the pressures and humiliations linked to their diet and their weight.
These cases of abuse have taken on such proportions that the International Gymnastics Federation adopted a new code of conduct in June to protect gymnasts against abusive practices.