Figure skating, John Coughlin and the disturbing reality of athlete-on-athlete abuse

The death of the two-time US pairs champion brought up uncomfortable questions about power dynamics in ice skating – and sexual abuse in sportsWe are in the midst of a great reckoning around abuse in sports. Athletes – from Olympic champions to high school students – have come forward to detail harrowing accounts of the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse they have endured at the hands of coaches and how the very institutions set up to protect them have miserably failed to do their jobs. Most of the stories have focused on predatory coaches but less reported, and no less disturbing, are the cases in which athletes have been abused by their own teammates. One recent set of data released by attorney and campaigner Nancy Hogshead-Makar said that 23% of cases of athlete sexual abuse involved athlete-on-athlete abuse.“With coaches, you can put barriers in every stage, so concepts of recruitment, of background checks, and making education. All those, in theory, could apply to athletes but they don’t really apply to athletes,” says Daniel Rhind, a professor at Loughborough University whose research is primarily focused on safeguarding children in sport. “You can’t say, ‘Don’t socialize together, don’t be alone together’… In reality, athletes are in training camps in hotels, what have you. It’s going to be very hard for them to implement such policies.” Continue reading…