Sexual abuse revelations rock German sports

The former champion of the Olympic Games tells in the documentary how he was abused by the coach between the ages of 11 and 25. And it condemns the network of silence around the crimes. “The swimming association is walking over dead bodies,” says Jan Hempel in German Sport, which emerged from an ARD documentary in which former diving world champion Jan Hempel revealed that he was repeatedly abused from the age of 11 between 1982 and 1996. subjected by his coach Werner Langer.

In a program on sexual violence in German professional swimming, broadcast this Saturday (20/08) by the public broadcaster, Hempel accused officials of the German Swimming Association (DSV) of knowing about the crimes without doing anything.

“I was tormented myself that for DSV only sports success is important. You’re just running over dead bodies. It doesn’t matter how. And anyone who doesn’t get on that wave is just pushed out.” At least that’s how it was back then, but some characters still exist; the athlete openly mentions Lutz Buschkov, who was the federal head coach of the German jumpers 20 years ago.

Borger, 33, who represents the interests of German athletes and is currently competing at the European Beach Volleyball Championships in Munich, said he was “shocked” by the revelations, demanding an investigation into “what goes on behind the scenes”.

“He never failed to satisfy your wants and needs”

Jan Hempel won a silver medal in 1996. At the Atlanta Olympics. Shortly before entering the competition, she told Langer that she could no longer work with him. Only then did the ongoing violence end. Langer committed suicide in 2001.

In the ARD television documentary, the former champion speaks quietly, passes his hands over his face several times, his inner struggle is visible. “My coach was abused. He never missed an opportunity to give free rein to his wants and needs,” Hempel, now 50, reveals. And he adds: “I think that speaking is a duty for others, also for the future.”

Former jumper Heiko Meyer, Hempel’s longtime partner in synchronized jumping, says his friend confided in him but “never elaborated. “I knew what was happening. But as far as… I’m done.”

Maximilian Klein of Athleten Deutschland told DW that those who remain silent are “protecting the institutions and therefore the criminals.” “In part, they believe that their actions will prevent further harm to the victims. Sometimes there are webs of dependency or close relationships that give the knower a sense of powerlessness and thereby block clarification. “

It will be necessary “a kind of separation of authorities, with independent structures”, because “sport alone and only with its own resources will not effectively fight against violence and abuse”, warns Klein.

“There are simply too many conflicts of interest, dependency relationships, isolated structures or close family ties in the system, there is too much unwillingness or inability to act, people are not believed, complaints are in vain or insufficient. the consequences.”

Sexual violence in sports is a common problem

After the accusations were published, DSV released Bushkov from his duties “until the matter is finally clarified”. The president of the association, Marco Troll, commented to ARD that the federal coach “is being removed from the fire, which initially indicates the presumption of innocence”. time this way,” assured the Troll.

In recent years, sexual abuse scandals have surfaced in German sports, as well as in other forms such as judo. But the problem is international, as evidenced by other revelations of American gymnastics or British, Afghan or Haitian football.

“Instead of a culture of silence, it is necessary to establish a culture of observation, recognition and action,” claims Maximilian Klein. “It’s going to take time before it gets off the ground, and therefore even the last gym in the country. It will require long and painful evolutionary processes in clubs and associations.”

In making the painful decision to speak out about his traumatic experiences, former Olympic champion Jan Hempel said he hoped “the stone has worked”. “Something just has to happen.”

av (DW, ots)

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