Player's Own Voice

Player's Own Voice podcast: Olympian Allison Forsyth has committed her career to safe sport

CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice podcast chats with Olympian alpine skier, sexual abuse survivor, and leading advocate for safe sport, Allison Forsyth.

Retired alpine skier, advocate shares her latest thinking on how to rid sports of abuse

Canadian Olympic skier Allison Forsyth in Toronto,  2018.
Allison Forsyth has turned her own experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a coach into a positive movement for change.  (Chris Donovan/The Canadian Press)

These are trying times for athletes, coaches and national sporting organizations in Canada.

The incidents of abuse and maltreatment in amateur sport seem to be neverending. Hockey dominates the controversial headlines, though very few sports can claim a problem-free record.

Olympian alpine skier Allison Forsyth has turned her own experience of sexual abuse at the hands of a coach into a positive movement for change. Her career is dedicated to educating all involved, correcting transgressive behaviour, and improving the prospects for safe sport.

Her advice for parents and athletes is clear and direct. Her warnings to coaches are blunt. And she has little patience for senior managers of organizations who fail to see the urgency of their situation.

Forsyth has an athlete-first mentality, and that includes a deep awareness of the psychological complexities involved in high-performance coaching.

As an Olympian speed skater, Player's Own Voice podcast host Anastasia Bucsis understands the dynamic. Coaches become quasi-parental figures. Athletes become the sum of their results.

In the pressure cooker of high performance, what are the warning signs? When does gruelling exercise become unacceptable punishment? When is a raised voice a red line?

Complex problems don't necessarily have complex solutions. As Forsyth explains, three very familiar words go a long way toward putting an end to the abuse: equity, diversity and inclusion.

There are transcripts of this podcast for our hard-of-hearing audience. To listen to Allison Forsyth, Jason Priestley, Mimi Rahneva, Cito Gaston, Robert Parish, Aaron Brown, Kaylyn Kyle, Kurt Browning, Bianca Farella, Summer McIntosh, Beckie Sauerbrunn or any of the guests from earlier seasons, go to CBC Listen or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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