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MacLennan, Black and Shewfelt calling for change in leadership at Gymnastics Canada

TORONTO — Three Canadian gymnastics stars have joined the call for the resignation of Ian Moss.
Ian Moss, CEO of Gymnastics Canada speaks with reporters outside the courthouse in Sarnia, Ont. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. Three Canadian gymnastics stars have joined the call for the resignation of Ian Moss. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Spowart

TORONTO — Three Canadian gymnastics stars have joined the call for the resignation of Ian Moss.

In a letter to Gymnastics Canada's board of directors, obtained by the CBC, Rosie MacLennan, Ellie Black and Kyle Shewfelt asked for the resignation of Moss, the organization's embattled CEO, and board chair Jeffrey Thomson, saying they have lost confidence the two "have the ability and trust of the community to see Gymnastics Canada through the current crisis."

MacLennan is a two-time Olympic gold medallist in trampoline, while Shewfelt won Olympic gymnastics gold in 2004, and Black is a three-time world championship medallist.

The two-and-a-half page letter, dated Jan. 27, requested a meeting with the board to take place no later than Feb. 15.

"The sport of gymnastics is at a vulnerable and critical juncture," they wrote. "Leaders require communication and action that engender trust. Leaders require the ability to instil confidence in others. Leaders must take action and show good judgment. They must also unite their communities and proactively steer them towards a common goal.

"(Moss and Thomson) are not leaders in a way that athletes, coaches, staff, PTOs or other stakeholders respect or require. Ian and Jeff failed to acknowledge the full scope of the challenges facing Gymnastics Canada and have failed to take any responsibility for the current state of the sport."

Hundreds of former and current gymnasts — who have since formed Gymnasts for Change Canada — have been calling for Moss's resignation for months, after writing an open letter to Sport Canada last March calling for a federal investigation into the culture of abuse in their sport.

"They’re a bit late to the party but this letter from Kyle, Rosie, and Ellie is very welcome nonetheless," Amelia Cline, a co-founder of Gymnasts for Change, tweeted Monday. "While it shouldn’t require being an Olympian to have a voice that’s heard, this is how to use a position of power and influence for positive change. #SportSurvivor."

MacLennan and Shewfelt declined to comment on the letter, saying they preferred to respect the process and speak with the board.

The three areas of concern they addressed in their letter were safe sport, organizational health, and lack of transparency and follow through.

Moss testified at Monday's heated session of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women's meetings on the safety of women and girls in sport. On his way out of the room, MP Andreanne Larouche said that Moss "verbally assaulted" vocal gymnastics advocate Kim Shore.

The Status of Women meetings come after an outcry from hundreds of athletes in several sports, including gymnastics, bobsled and skeleton, about toxic environments in their national federations. A prominent theme of the testimony, which began in November, is a call for national judicial inquiry into sport.

Gymnastics has been front and centre of the safe-sport crisis in Canada, both because of the sheer number of assault and abuse cases against coaches, and the fact most cases involve minors.

"We do not send this letter lightly," MacLennan, Black and Shewfelt wrote. "We sent it out of significant concern for the future of the sport that we love and want to see thrive … We feel that GymCan requires new leadership who can move the organization forward in a proactive, positive, collaborate and athlete-centred direction. We encourage the board to take immediate action by removing Jeff and Ian from their current roles and to begin the search for new leadership."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press