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Former B.C. gymnast the lead plaintiff in class-action lawsuit against Gymnastics Canada over alleged abuse

Warning: Some readers may find details of this story disturbing.


A former Metro Vancouver gymnast has filed a class-action lawsuit against Gymnastics Canada and six provincial member organizations over alleged abuse.

Amelia Cline is the lead plaintiff in the suit, filed Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court, and there are many as 20 other former gymnasts claiming lasting physical and psychological damages suffered over many years.

The proposed class of plaintiffs are suing Gymnastics Canada and provincial governing bodies in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan alleging they were abused while participating in programs and activities delivered between 1978 and the present.

"The defendants caused or contributed to the abuse of gymnasts by creating a culture and an environment where the abuse could occur, and failing to take appropriate steps to protect the athletes in their care and control, many of whom were children when the abuse took place," reads the statement of claim.

Cline was coached in Coquitlam, where she told CTV News she experienced “daily verbal, physical, psychological abuse."

Cline said she was often pushed well beyond her physical limits.

"One of my coaches actually stretched my leg so forcibly, it tore my hamstring off my pelvis," she said.

“They would weigh us weekly, very publicly, and any sort of increase in weight would be met with a lot of public humiliation, a lot of yelling and encouragement to basically starve ourselves,” Cline added.

Cline, now 32, said the abuse led her to walk away from the sport at the age of 13.

"I still have nightmares. I don’t weigh myself very specifically because I've learned over the years that will send me into disordered eating. I still have physical ailments,” Cline said.

Gymnastics Canada responded to the lawsuit in a statement to CTV News on Thursday, calling the allegations outlined in the claim "unacceptable in any sport environment."

"We take them very seriously," the organization said. "As leaders in the sport of gymnastics within Canada, we are committed to providing a safe environment for members of our sport that is accessible, inclusive, respects our participants' personal goals and is free from all forms of maltreatment."

Gymnastics Canada also pointed to its own "comprehensive policies and procedures" for dealing with allegations of abuse, which can be reported through its website

According to the lawsuit, Clines’s injuries included a training-induced seizure, ongoing back and neck injuries and chronic pain, a hamstring avulsion fracture, fractures in a hand, wrist, fingers and toes, chronic knee pain, disordered eating, stunted growth, anxiety, insomnia and nightmares.

Cline said she was inspired to write a blog detailing her traumas after seeing American gymnasts speak out about being sexually assaulted by Dr. Larry Nassar.

"I was flooded by other gymnasts from the all the way up until present day saying this happened to me too,” she said.

The action seeks unspecified punitive and aggravated damages, past and future costs of health-care services, and an order directing Gymnastics Canada and the provincial bodies to implement, apply and follow appropriate governance procedures to prioritize the physical and psychological health of gymnasts.

"We just want change in this sport, we just want to see the next generation of gymnasts be safe,” said Cline.

CTV News also reached out to Gymnastics B.C. for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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