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A bill that will soon be examined in the Senate

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As part of a Senate investigative committee, I interviewed dozens of sports players. What did you conclude?

More than other sectors, Omerta reigned supreme in sports, in the name of reverence for coach and performance. Since Sarah Abiteboul’s revelations in “Un si long silence” in 2020, and the work she did in “l’Obs”, omerta has been broken, and the letter has been released. But over the course of the hearings, we’ve taken a measure of the path we still have to go. This is a sector that suffers from a lack of training and information.

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Do you often insist on the need to strengthen oversight of the good reputation of those who practice sports?

Yes, this is necessary. In 2021, the law confirming the principles of the republic introduced the obligation of clubs, at the time of obtaining a license, to collect the full identity of anyone who is likely to exercise the function of sports educator or interfere with minors. The clubs then forward the collected information to each association’s honor supervisor, who then submits a list of people to be screened on a platform dedicated to the Ministry of Sports. Next, the state examines the National Criminal Registry (Bulletin No. 2), and the National Automated Judicial File for Offenders of Sexual Offenses or Violent Crimes (FIJAIS).

This very heavy system is not doing well, it seems…

Not entirely: out of 2 million teachers, the ministerial unit admits that it has examined only 925 thousand, barely half of them! Many club presidents did not personalize the procedure. We also found anomalies in paradigm entry, which delays decision-making… In the meantime, predators can continue to function in contact with children. Finally, we discovered that the convictions recorded in Bulletin No. 2 of the criminal record fade over time! Convictions are no longer visible.

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‘You trampled on my soul’: When Sarah Abiteboul told her hell

What exactly do you offer?

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that no interloper in the sporting environment, in contact with minors, registered offender for contact with children, or who has been the subject of a conviction would have overlooked the permit. It is not enough to control a person when he is already in the club, it is necessary to control him before. Our text proposes to establish prior integrity checks for all volunteers and staff by club and union bosses.

It is said that you have dissent within the committee [de la culture, de l’éducation et de la communication ] Who examined your proposal in the Senate?

Yes. For example, the fact that control was extended to all stakeholders—the parents who accompany, the person who comes to take pictures, the person who serves drinks at the bar—was not retained … Some pointed out that this enhanced control would make the already complex volunteer recruitment process By clubs more difficult. Even if you are fully aware of the concerns this text might raise, of course the priority is to pull the rug out from under the feet of sexual harassers! And I am very happy: today the commission presented its conclusions, which were unanimously adopted. We won the first half.

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What are your main suggestions?

An important measure is the fact that with a conviction recorded in FIJAIS, the person can no longer practice, even if the conviction disappears from Publication No. 2 of his criminal record, as is already the case in social and medical matters. – The Social Sector in the Admission Law (2022). It prevents erasing conviction. We also suggest that club captains are obligated to report to the governor behavior within their clubs that poses a risk to the safety or moral and physical health of athletes. The governor has the ability to comment without waiting for a penal decision. Sports leaders who cover up such violence should also be administratively sanctioned. There should be an ethical reference in every club, not just at the federation level.

Is the gymnastics world more permeable to some forms of violence?

What are the next steps?

If the Senate votes on our bill in open session on June 15th, the text will go to second reading in the Assembly. The Minister of Sports undertook to examine it as soon as possible. Sarah Abiteboul, with whom we have been working for several months, is launching a platform at the same time, which we hope will be signed by many more athletes. We must continue to put pressure on predators, and we must not abandon them. This is just the first text, there will be another!

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