Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Please be advised that Ms. Diane Deslippe has been suspended for a period of two (2) years from membership with Gymnastics Ontario effective May 14, 2022, and in accordance with Gymnastics Ontario’s Discipline and Complaints Policy.
Gymnastics Ontario commissioned an independent investigation into allegations about Ms. Deslippe on May 14, 2022, as per our Discipline and Complaint Policy. As part of its complaints process, Gymnastics Ontario placed Ms. Deslippe under immediate interim suspension from all its activities while the investigation and complaints process were completed.
The following excerpts from the Discipline Panel’s decision provide context regarding the breaches:
Section 8 of the 2019 Code requires coaches to recognize their power: “The coach-athlete relationship is a privileged one…..Coaches must understand and respect the inherent power imbalance that exists in this relationship and must be extremely careful not to abuse it, consciously or unconsciously…” The Respondent’s [Ms. Deslippe’s] approach to coaching does not respect this power imbalance. The Respondent [Ms. Deslippe] stated to the Investigator that, “I have changed throughout the years in my coaching style to accommodate the rules of the Federation and the needs of each generation.” “I am constantly evolving and assessing and moving forward.’ The evidence of the 2022 Complainants demonstrated that the Respondent [Ms. Deslippe] has not evolved to the extent required by the 2019 Code. It is clear from the testimony of the Complainant [Gymnastics Ontario] Witnesses, the Respondent [Ms. Deslippe] and the Respondent [Ms. Deslippe’s] witnesses, that the Respondent [Ms. Deslippe] pushes athletes hard, which, in itself, is not contrary to the Code. What is contrary to the Code, is the abuses of power that manifest in yelling at athletes and coaches (although the Respondent [Ms. Deslippe] calls this her ‘gym voice’, that is clearly not how she is perceived), crying athletes, athlete reports of training through injury, and their fear of speaking up. I find the Respondent [Ms. Deslippe], consciously or unconsciously, exploited her power to put her ideas of what is required to perform ahead of athlete health and safety. Her failure to modify her expectations to accommodate athlete ability is a compounding factor in my finding.
Aggressive coaching behaviour is a violation of the standards and obligations spelled out in the Gymnastics Ontario Codes of Conduct. It is important to note that several of the Complainant [Gymnastics Ontario] Witnesses, promising athletes and coaches, testified that the Respondent’s [Ms. Deslippe’s] coaching led them to experience ongoing trauma and psychological harm. Quite frankly, one experience of harm would be too many.
Gymnastics Ontario has a zero-tolerance with respect to the harm of any participant in our Federation. We are committed to supporting and listening to every individual who comes forward with a complaint. Our Board of Directors are committed to providing a Safe Sport environment for all participants that is accessible, inclusive, and free from all forms of maltreatment.
Requests for further information should be sent to Dave Sandford, Gymnastics Ontario’s Chief Executive Officer.