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Ian Moss out as Gymnastics Canada CEO after athletes call for his resignation

‘We have to do due diligence in terms of facts to simple as that’
Ian Moss, CEO of Gymnastics Canada speaks with reporters outside the courthouse in Sarnia, Ont. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Moss is out as chief executive officer of Gymnastics Canada, a move that comes amid calls for leadership change at the embattled sports organization. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Spowart

Ian Moss is out as chief executive officer of Gymnastics Canada, a move that comes amid calls for leadership change at the embattled sports organization.

The governing body said in a release that it is moving forward with “substantive changes in leadership” after months of calls for Moss’s resignation from Gymnasts for Change Canada, an advocacy group made up of hundreds of former and current gymnasts.

The gymnasts wrote an open letter to Sport Canada last March calling for a federal investigation into the culture of abuse in their sport.

“We have heard loud and clear the cultural and behavioural wrongdoings that have hurt individuals and our sport. We acknowledge and respect the ripple effect of these wrongdoings and we are moving ahead — today,” interim board chair Bernard Petiot said in the release.

Gymnastics Canada’s move comes after the Jan. 27 release of a 277-page report by McLaren Global Sport Solutions following an independent review into “the tsunami of negative criticism and egregious allegations of abuse that have been levelled at the governance of gymnastics in Canada.”

The report found the “lack of integrated national standards and leadership to be the Achilles heel of Canada’s gymnastics’ ecosystem,” and recommended steps toward accountability and promoting athlete well-being.

Three days after the report was released, Moss appeared at a Standing Committee on the Status of Women hearing on safety of women in sport and was questioned by MPs about allegations that he knew of complaints of misconduct from athletes against coaches Alex Bard and Scott McFarlane, but allowed them to continue working.

Moss said McFarlane’s was a criminal case that GymCan had no involvement with. He argued his hands were tied with Bard.

“There were several allegations (against Bard),” Moss said at the hearing. “That’s the point. We have to do due diligence in terms of facts to simple as that.”

Bard was named in 2018 to Canada’s coaching staff for the 2020 Olympics despite allegations of maltreatment. Moss said the formal code of conduct complaint ended in his termination in 2019, although GymCan’s press release said Bard was resigning for “personal reasons.”

McFarlane, meanwhile, was acquitted on all sexual assault-related charges in November of 2022 connected to his time coaching at a Mississauga, Ont., gym. He was charged in 2018 for alleged involvement with a 15-year-old gymnast.

He originally faced charges of sexual assault, child luring of a person under 16, sexual interference of a person under 16, making sexually explicit material available to a person under 16, and indecent exposure to a person under 16.

“We have much work to do,” Petiot said. “New leadership positions and renewed governance are important steps in moving forward. The McLaren Report has given us a framework for change and an increased commitment to accountability, transparency, and excellence in Safe Sport.”

Gymnastics Canada said it will work with Moss on ensuring a “smooth transition” toward bringing on a new CEO.

The organization is also looking for a new chair for its board of directors after Jeff Thomson resigned earlier this month and was replaced by vice-chair Petoit on an interim based.

The changes in leadership follow previous steps by Gymnastics Canada to address its culture, including signing an agreement to join Abuse-Free Sport, the new federal program to prevent and address maltreatment in sport.

Gymnastics Canada also announced Thursday the addition of Kacey Neely as safe sport director. The organization says she will be responsible for developing its safe sport framework and will work with clubs and external partners on a national safety strategy.

The Canadian Press

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