University of Toronto pundits ask sports minister to review his own podium

TORONTO – Three sports pundits from the University of Toronto are asking Canada’s sports minister to take a look at the on-the-podium mandate amid allegations of misconduct against athletes.

In a letter to Sports Minister Pascal Saint-Onz, Bruce Kidd, Peter Donnelly and Gretchen Kerr said the OTP has a medal-first order that puts pressure on national sports organizations to prioritize top outcomes on health and safety.

“What started out as a carrot has turned into a stick,” the letter said. “We believe that the ultimate measure of the success of the Canadian sports system should not be medals, but the quality and quantity of opportunities that we provide to Canadians in sports, both in the health and well-being of athletes and at both high and grassroots levels.”

Kidd, Donnelly and Kerr have joined the growing voice for a major overhaul of Canada’s sports system following allegations of abuse in several games in recent times.

St-Onge held an emergency roundtable meeting in Ottawa last week, telling the Canadian press that since he was appointed sports minister about six months ago, more than eight national sports organizations have faced allegations ranging from sexual harassment to misuse of funds.

St-Onge has promised to expedite the opening date of an independent complaints process through Canada’s Sport Dispute Resolution Center, and on Tuesday former artistic swimmer Sara-Eve Pelletier was named Canada’s first sports integrity commissioner.

“The podium’s own mandate, which promotes more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada, does not lead to ensuring that medal-winning athletes are driven and loss-free,” wrote Kidd, Donnelly and Kerr.

The OTP was established to help the Canadian team rise to the medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and recommends how much federal funding each sport receives. CEO Ann Marklinger says, however, that in recent years there has been a shift in the order to more “value-based approaches” to sports excellence.

“Although the initial focus was primarily on medals, over the last four to five years, we’ve worked hard to make sure that how Canadian athletes succeed on the international stage is as important as their results,” Marklinger told The K. Canadian Press 6 “It’s not just about achieving performance goals, but how you achieve those goals in a supportive culture that is safe for everyone to enjoy the journey. We’re working hard on that.”

Marklinger has hinted at recent news from Maggie McNeil that he will not be competing in a separate event at the World Championships. The Olympic swimming champion said stress was affecting his mental health. He told CBC that “ (Canada Swimming) must be thinking of us first as a person which is so important. I am grateful for that. “

“There are many such examples,” Marklinger said. “We can always be good, and everyone is working hard together to be better with their own podium.”

In their advice to Sport Canada, Kidd, Donnelly and Kerr said that the athletes’ representatives should form a minimum of 30 percent of national sports and multi-sport organizations, because “they know better than anyone what they need to be successful and healthy.” ‘

They recommend a completely independent review of the funding structure, including incentives set by Sport Canada and OTP.

And third, they recommend an independent study of the need for cultural change to prioritize the rights, health and well-being of athletes.

“Healthy, happy athletes also win medals, and live healthy lives without physical or mental harm. We are now listening to athletes speak,” they wrote.

Marklinger said the four national sports bodies, in consultation with their athletes, would soon participate in a pilot project of a new equipment that “emphasizes a balanced approach to people and performance.”

“Experts created this tool, not OTP,” he said “So, we believe it will be important for the system. As an organization, our focus is on providing equipment to national sports organizations to strengthen their own culture.”

In recent weeks, dozens of Canadian bobsled and skeletal athletes have written an open letter calling for the resignation of their NSO acting CEO and high performance director, calling it a toxic culture. And more than 70 current and retired gymnasts – the number has risen to over 300 – wrote a similar letter to an independent investigation into their sport in Canada.

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