Dutch top turn coach Gerrit Beltman confesses in the Noordhollands Dagblad that he has physically and mentally abused gymnasts. The 64-year-old coach is still active in sports.
At the beginning of this century Beltman was the trainer of various Dutch top gymnasts such as Suzanne Harmes, Verona van de Leur, Gabriëlla Wammes and Renske Endel.
"The behavior I showed is in no way justifiable. I absolutely wanted to win, at the expense of everything, I was very hard on it. I am deeply ashamed now," he says Friday.
"Never have I consciously intended to hit, to scold, to hurt or to belittle. But it did happen. I talked, thought it was the only way to cultivate a top sport mentality. I blame myself for have failed. "
Beltman was accused years ago of assault, harassment and causing psychological problems by Harmes, who at the time also lashed out at Frank Louter.
'More coaches have misbehaved'
He says in the Noordhollands Dagblad that he is not the only top coach who is guilty of transgressive behavior. "There were, and are, more coaches who have behaved the same way. I was standing next to them in the room, seeing that they were doing the same thing that has now permeated me: mental and physical flogging."
One of those persons is still active within the KNGU gymnastics union, but according to Beltman, the union does not act. "The person is involved in the current Olympic track and has not had to answer for it. Within the union, people are aware, but no action has been taken."
KNGU: 'Unfortunately, recognize stories'
In a response to its own website, the KNGU says it recognizes the stories "unfortunately". "It remains painful, shocking and confrontational to read the gymnasts' experiences. More than ever, attention is paid to the topic of a safe and pedagogically responsible gym sport, and what it takes. The stories confirm the need to really change and bring about a culture change. We have called on Mr. Beltman on several occasions. "
The union calls on the gymnasts to report and has had contact with Beltman. "In the context of due care, it is important that reporters report and that all information that can contribute to that independent truth-finding is shared, so that what has happened can be determined independently and factually."