10 times World was shocked by Sexual Harassment in Sports Industry

6 Sep 2023  Read 4687 Views

As per the recent NCRB report of 2021, the crime rate against women has shown an increase from 56.5 per cent in 2020 to 64.5 per cent in 2021. Unfortunately, sexual crimes against women are also a significant concern in the sports sector. While sports have always been considered a source of inspiration, competition, and teamwork, they are not immune to the darker side of human behavior.

So, let's delve into this article to dig into the 10 famous instances of sexual harassment in sports industry. 

Instances of Sexual Harassment in Sports Industry

  1. Women Hockey Players Allege Sexual Harassment by Chief Coach (2010)

  • In 2010, members of the Indian Women's Hockey team accused the then-chief coach, Maharaj Krishan Kaushik, of sexual harassment. The scandal emerged just before the Hockey India elections, causing concern and shock within the national sport.

  • The allegations came to light when Ranjitha Devi sent an email to Hockey India detailing her experience of harassment. 

  • The incident raised questions about the safety and well-being of female athletes in a sport that holds national importance.

  1. National-Level Gymnast and Coach Booked for Sexual Harassment during Asian Games 2014

  • During a national camp for the Asian Games 2014, gymnastics coach Manoj Rana and gymnast Chandan Pathak faced allegations of sexually harassing a female gymnast. 

  • 29-year-old woman filed a complaint with the police, alleging that the coach and the gymnast had insulted her modesty and intimidated her during an evening gymnastics session.

  1. RK Sharma - National Team Chief Coach for Cycling (2022)

  • A Senior female cyclist lodged a complaint of "inappropriate behavior" against RK Sharma, the national team chief coach, during an overseas training camp in Slovenia in June 2022. 

  • The incident raised concerns about the safety of female athletes during international competitions.

  • In June 2022, the allegations turned out to be true and the Sports Authority of India terminated RK Sharma’s contract.

  1. USA Gymnastics Scandal (2016)

  • One of the most high-profile cases of sexual harassment in sports involved Dr. Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor. Nassar sexually abused hundreds of young female gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment. 

  • The scandal highlighted the vulnerability of young athletes in the world of elite gymnastics and the urgent need for cultural change within sports organizations to prioritize athletes' safety and well-being over medals and achievements. 

  • It also led to reforms within USA Gymnastics, including the resignation of its entire board and a review of how the organization handles sexual assault allegations.

  1. P Nagarajan - Tamil Nadu Track & Field Coach (2021)

  • In July 2021, the famous sports coach was arrested on grounds of improper behavior as several women athletes accused Tamil Nadu's track & field coach P Nagarajan of sexual abuse. 

  • The allegations spanned several years, with a 19-year-old athlete being the first to come forward with charges against Nagarajan.

  • Some even alleged that they were threatened by the coach that he would end their careers if they uttered a word about it.

  1. Alex Ambrose - India U-17 Women's Football Team Assistant Coach (2022)

  • In July 2022, assistant coach Alex Ambrose was sacked from his role in the India U-17 women's football team due to allegations of sexual misconduct during their Europe tour.

  • In September 2022, following the sexual misconduct complaint, he was sent back from a preparatory tour and suspended till further orders.

  • The All India Football Federation (AIFF) took swift action after the complaint was filed.

  1. Scandal in South Korean Speed Skating (2019)

  • Allegations of physical and sexual abuse by coaches rocked the South Korean speed skating community. Shim Suk-hee, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of South Korea's national short-track speedskating team, accused her former coach, Cho Jae-beom, of repeatedly raping her since she was 17 years old.

  • Shim Suk-hee's case has encouraged other victims to speak out as well. Another former athlete, Shin Yoo-yong, accused her former coach of repeatedly raping her.

  • Athletes spoke out about years of mistreatment, leading to investigations and calls for systemic changes to protect athletes.

  1. Sexual Harassment Allegations in Indian Wrestling (2020)

  • The infamous case of Indian wrestling, where a young female wrestler accused the President of the Wrestling Federation of assault and harassment. 

  • The incident brought the elite Indian wrestlers including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia on the roads protesting and demanding the arrest of Brij Bhushan.

  1. Chinese Tennis Star sexual assault claims against Chinese official(2021)

  • The case is significant as it marks one of the highest-profile #MeToo cases in China and involves a senior Communist Party official. 

  • Peng made this allegation public in a Weibo post, which was later deleted.Peng alleged that Zhang coerced her into a sexual relationship, which ultimately led to her decision to make the allegations public.

  • It has also highlighted the issue of censorship in China, as Peng's post was quickly taken down, and discussion of the case was censored online. Despite these challenges, there has been international concern for Peng's safety and calls for an investigation into her accusations

  1. Tamil Nadu Boxing Association Secretary Accused of Misbehavior (2011)

  • Bronze medalist E Thulasi alleged that the secretary of the Tamil Nadu Boxing Association, A K Karunakaran, misbehaved with her while pressuring her to comply with his advances for team selection in important events. 

  • This incident exposed the power dynamics that can lead to sexual harassment within sports associations.

  • The case also highlighted the abuse of dominance by men in power.

Conclusion

These 10 instances of sexual harassment serve as a medal of shame for those in power who abuse their dominance in the sports fraternity. While athletes inspire us with their dedication and achievements, they also deserve a safe and respectful environment to pursue their dreams. These cases underscore the importance of implementing stringent anti-harassment policies and laws in order to develop a safe environment for our athletes. Only through strict measures can we hope to create a sports world that lives up to its ideals of fair play and integrity.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Who was RK Sharma, and what was the nature of the complaint made against him in 2022?

  • RK Sharma was the national team’s chief coach for cycling in 2022. A senior female cyclist lodged a complaint of "inappropriate behavior" against RK Sharma during an overseas training camp in Slovenia in June 2022. In June 2022, the allegations turned out to be true, and the Sports Authority of India terminated RK Sharma’s contract.

  1. What was the USA Gymnastics Scandal in 2016, and who was the central figure involved in it?

  • The USA Gymnastics Scandal in 2016 involved Dr. Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor. Nassar sexually abused hundreds of young female gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment. This scandal highlighted the vulnerability of young athletes in the world of elite gymnastics and the urgent need for cultural change within sports organizations to prioritize athletes' safety and well-being over medals and achievements. It also led to reforms within USA Gymnastics, including the resignation of its entire board and a review of how the organization handles sexual assault allegations.

  1. What significant allegations were made in the case of South Korean Speed Skating in 2019, and how did it impact the sports community in South Korea?

  • In 2019, allegations of physical and sexual abuse by coaches rocked the South Korean speed skating community. Shim Suk-hee, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of South Korea's national short-track speed skating team, accused her former coach, Cho Jae-beom, of repeatedly raping her since she was 17 years old. Shim Suk-hee's case encouraged other victims to speak out as well. Athletes spoke out about years of mistreatment, leading to investigations and calls for systemic changes to protect athletes.

  1. Who is Brij Bhushan, and what is the infamous incident involving him in Indian wrestling in 2020?

  • Brij Bhushan is a notable figure in Indian wrestling. In 2020, a young female wrestler accused Brij Bhushan, the President of the Wrestling Federation, of assault and harassment. This incident led to protests by elite Indian wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, demanding his arrest.

About the Author: Devansh Dixit | 35 Post(s)

Devansh is a 4th-year law student from Amity Law School Noida (Uttar Pradesh), currently interning at Finology Legal. He is specialising in business and commercial laws. 

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