FAQs Regarding Disciplinary Matters

Gymnastics Canada & Alberta Gymnastics Federation

In organized sport, having a system in place whereby members and participants in that sport can report a concern, complaint, or suspected violation of the policies, procedures and/or Code of Conduct maintained by that sport’s governing body is common practice. As the governing bodies for gymnastics at a federal and provincial (Alberta) level, Gymnastics Canada (GymCan) and the Alberta Gymnastics Federation (AGF) are committed to a positive and safe sport environment for all participants in the sport of gymnastics, and maintain such a system. Any conduct witnessed, at any time, that may constitute a violation of or non-compliance with GymCan’s Code of Ethics and Conduct or AGF’s Policies and Procedures, that may indicate that the safety, health, or well-being of an athlete or member may be at risk, or that may amount to an offence, should be reported to GymCan and/or AGF promptly. Complaints or concerns may be submitted by any member or participant through either the:

In instances where the suspected incident of non-compliance or violation is less severe, and/or may not give rise to a risk to the safety, health or well-being of athlete or member, individuals are encouraged to first try to respectfully address the issue with the person directly, or with their club’s President or a member of its Board of Directors. If you are unsure how to proceed at the club level, please refer to your club’s Policies and Procedures or speak with your club President for guidance.

 

What happens when a concern or violation is reported to GymCan or AGF?

Each governing body relies on its Policies and Procedures to help guide its approach to investigation and resolution of complaints or concerns received. At GymCan and the AGF, complaints are first assessed and vetted by professionals with expertise in athlete welfare and safety. This includes an external Harassment Officer, a Safe Sport director, and when necessary - legal counsel and relevant organizations supporting child welfare. Each situation is unique, but a number of factors are consistently considered in the evaluation of a complaint. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • the nature and extent of the complaint or allegations; and
  • broader concern for the health, safety and well-being of participants in the gymnastics community.

Based on the initial assessment of the complaint, GymCan or AGF may impose interim restrictions on the member that is the subject of the complaint prior to completion of a full investigation into the complaint. These interim restrictions, if imposed,  are imposed with the intention of addressing a serious violation of applicable policies, procedures or codes of conduct, or ensuring the general health safety and well-being of athletes and other members pending completion of an investigation. Interim restrictions may include a provisional or administrative suspension of the individual member who is the subject of the complaint, and in rare cases, an administrative suspension of the membership of a member club. In all cases, an independent investigator is engaged to conduct a fair and neutral investigation into the complaint. During the investigation, both the complainant and member that is the subject of the complaint are provided with equal opportunity to actively participate in the investigative process. The steps of an investigation, from initiation to completion, are always executed as quickly as possible.

 

What does it mean for a club to be under ‘administrative suspension’ by AGF?

When a club is under administrative suspension, its activities are not sanctioned by the AGF during the period of the suspension. Its standing with the AGF is being assessed as a result of the complaint that gave rise to the suspension (compliance with AGF policies and procedures is required in order to remain in good standing), and therefore its membership, and associated benefits, are essentially “put on hold” until the relevant investigation is complete. This does not mean that the club cannot continue to operate as a business during this time.

 

Do all reports lead to a suspension?

No. Most issues or complaints can be, and are, resolved through an informal process at the club level. Other issues or complaints may require a more formal response, at the provincial and/or national level. Following an evaluation of the complaint, CanGym and/or AGF may impose interim restrictions pending completion of a full investigation based upon an assessment of appropriate actions in order to address a serious violation of applicable policies, procedures or codes of conduct, or to ensure the health, safety and well-being of participants, athletes and other members. Athlete well-being and safety will always be a prime concern of GymCan and AGF, and will take priority.

 

What about “innocent until proven guilty”?

Please be reminded that an administrative or interim suspension does NOT constitute or indicate a finding of guilt. It is a temporary step taken to respond to a complaint pending the outcome of an investigation into the complaint.

 

How is it possible that the person being suspended does not have the details of the complaint(s) which triggered the suspension?

Administrative or interim suspensions, when and if issued, are issued at the outset of a formal investigation, based upon an initial assessment that a serious violation of applicable policies, procedures or codes of conduct, or a risk to the safety or well-being of athletes, participants or other members, may exist. Until an investigator is assigned, there may be a short timeframe where the member that is the subject of the complaint may have limited knowledge of the details of the complaint. During the investigation, transparency with the parties involved is a goal wherever possible, but with the aim of respecting and taking seriously the confidentiality of the parties involved.

 

Are participants (e.g. athletes, coaches, parents) at risk if they continue to operate under a club that is under administrative suspension?

There is no clear answer to this until a formal investigation is completed. However, it is necessary that all AGF members of a club under administrative suspension are made aware of the suspension and its implications with respect to their AGF membership. These are as follows:

  • If you participate in any activities at a club that is under administrative suspension, please note that you are not insured under AGF for your activities at that club until the administrative suspension is lifted.
  • AGF membership benefits and insurance travel with the individual, provided that the individual is participating in activities at an AGF member club that is in good standing. For a full list of AGF sanctioned clubs, please visit AGF’s Find a Club webpage.
  • All Albertans have Alberta Health Coverage but there are limitations (e.g. no sport accident insurance) that can have significant implications on an individual should an incident occur. To learn more about the benefits of AGF insurance, visit the AGF insurance webpage.
  • Should you continue to participate at a club under administrative suspension it is advisable to speak with the club or an insurance broker about alternate insurance coverage that may be available to you.
  • Please note that competitive athletes are only permitted to compete in AGF sanctioned competitions if they are participating under an AGF member club in good standing. If necessary or desired, AGF can assist with transferring an athlete to another club, including on an interim basis, however club registration fees may apply at the discretion of that club.

 

What are the implications on me, as an AGF member, when my club is placed under administrative suspension? How is my AGF insurance impacted?

Please refer to answer provided in the question above.

 

How do I go about obtaining refunds for various fees, courses etc.?

To request a refund for your club registration, or any courses you’ve paid for but not yet started or completed, please contact your club directly.  

AGF membership refunds can be requested through the AGF office by contacting*:

*AGF Membership refunds can only be issued in the event that the membership has been purchased in support of a class or classes that have not yet occured. Refunding a membership purchased in support of a class that has occurred would in effect delete that membership and nullify any benefits, including insurance, should a claim later arise.

 

Why are GymCan and AGF publicizing suspensions on their websites?

There are instances where media attention to the complaint is deemed inevitable by those involved in the evaluation process (see question #1). In those instances, GymCan and/or the AGF may proactively make a statement with respect to the existence of suspension, in an effort to mitigate the risk of confidential information emerging prior to an investigation taking place, and to ensure media are provided with the accurate, factual information from a credible source.

 

Don’t I have a right to know the nature of the allegations if I’m directly impacted by the consequences of a provisional suspension placed on an individual or club?

No, until an investigation is complete information regarding the nature and details of a complaint is confidential. We request that the public respect the privacy of those impacted, and the neutrality of the process throughout its entirety.

  

What are the differences between Safe Sport and disciplinary matters? Where can I learn more?

Discipline and Safe Sport are two separate entities. Safe Sport is focused on education and resources within organized sport, while disciplinary matters are related to complaint management protocol and enforcement of an organization's policies and procedures such as Ethics, and Code of Conduct policies.

To learn more about Safe Sport at GymCan and the AGF, visit:

Safe Sport materials are constantly being updated. Community feedback is always welcome and can be submitted to safesport@abgym.ab.ca.

 
Are coaches represented on the AGF’s Safe Sport committee?

The AGF’s Safe Sport committee is under development, however, coaches on the AGF’s Board of Directors are represented on the committee. These coaches are the technical chairs of gymnastics for all, women’s artistic gymnastics, men’s artistic gymnastics, trampoline & tumbling, and acrobatic gymnastics. Discussions are underway to further inform the development and direction of this committee. The AGF is also in the process of hiring a full-time Safe Sport Manager who will continue to build the Safe Sport initiative and will be inviting feedback from coaches and the broader community.

 

If you have further questions, please email info@abgym.ab.ca and we will continue to populate this FAQ list as appropriate.

 

Thousands of children and youth take part in gymnastics every day across Canada. For some, this is purely for fun and recreation.  For others, it may be dreams of athletic success on the world stage, a chosen future career as a coach, judge or club administrator or as a way to enjoy the benefits of physical fitness. Our sport may also be used as a vehicle for diverting young people from anti-social or criminal behaviour.  Regardless of the reason, internationally, all children have the right to participate in a safe and enjoyable sporting environment. Their rights are enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.