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  • Ayushi Shrivastava


Author: Ayushi Shrivastava

Hitkarini Law College



Abuse and/or harassment can destroy a person’s self-esteem and/or physical and/or  mental health. Human dignity is threatened and every individual’s right to play sport is  at risk. The Sports Association aims to promote sports for educational & personal  growth, but faces issues like abuse & discrimination Sexual harassment and abuse can  be caused by organizational cultures that overlook, deny, fail to prevent, or even  tolerate these behaviour’s. A lack of protection or enforcement of policies, codes of  conduct, whistleblowing channels and response mechanisms increases the potential for  harassment and abuse. High perpetrator power (e.g., positions of authority) and high vulnerability of athletes (e.g., young athletes or athletes from disadvantaged social  backgrounds) increase the risk of abuse and harassment. All levels of sport, from elite  to grassroots, are vulnerable to harassment and abuse in athletics and sport. 

Keywords: World Athletics, Abuse Prevention, Athlete Protection, On-field Harassment,  Mental Health, Community Belonging RT. 


For generations, sport and athletics have been about competition, friendship and  personal relationships. It has been considered a place of growth. These provide  individuals with an opportunity to display their talent, discipline, and commitment. But  behind the glitz and glamor, violence and harassment persist and have long affected  athletes, coaches, officials, and participants at all levels. Research examines factors  contributing to violence, harassment in sports. Athletes, especially young and  vulnerable athletes, are often trapped in environments where their dreams and  passions are thwarted by the very institutions that are supposed to nurture them.  Intangible challenges in sports are often expressed as a place for teamwork, respect,  and sportsmanship. Many factors lead to workplace violence and harassment beyond  gender. Physical violence on the field. Emotional abuse during training, Gender  discrimination, Sexual harassment in the locker room, The list goes on. The effects of  violence and harassment on athletes go far beyond the physical or emotional pain they  endure. They can impact an athlete’s mental health, performance, and well-being. 

Global Perspectives: This research focuses on issues faced in a specific jurisdiction.  It is important to note that sexual violence and harassment in sports is a global  phenomenon. Lessons from anti-doping initiatives can inform global efforts to protect  sport’s integrity, according to this study.

The Road Ahead: The study on violence and harassment in sports serves as a wake up call for the industry, recognizing that these issues won't disappear without action.  Through collaborative efforts and data analysis, stakeholders can work towards creating  a more inclusive and respectful sporting culture where all athletes can thrive. In doing  so, we not only protect athletes but also preserve the very essence of sport - celebrating human excellence and success.¹ 

Questions must be clear, objective and sensitive. 

1. Awareness and Understanding: 

a. Are you familiar with policies and guidelines addressing abuse and harassment in  sports? 

b. How confident are you in recognizing and differentiating various forms of abuse and  harassment within the sporting environment?

c. Have you undergone any training on preventing and addressing abuse and  harassment in sports? 

2. Perceived Prevalence: 

a. In your opinion, how prevalent is abuse and harassment in sports and athletics? 

b. Do you believe certain sports or athletic environments are more susceptible to abuse  and harassment? 

c. Have you personally witnessed or experienced instances of abuse or harassment in  sports? 

3. Institutional Support: 

a. How would you rate your sports organization’s commitment to preventing and  addressing abuse and harassment? 

b. Are there visible measures in place, such as codes of conduct or awareness  campaigns, to promote a safe sporting environment? 

c. Do you believe that your sports organization adequately supports those who report  incidents of abuse or harassment? 

4. Prevention Strategies: 

a. What proactive measures do you think could effectively prevent abuse and  harassment in sports? 

b. Should prevention strategies be tailored differently for various demographics within  the sporting community? 

c. How can sports organizations promote a culture of respect, inclusivity, and  accountability to deter abusive behavior? 


These programs should encompass nuanced discussions on power dynamics, consent,  and the impact of language and behavior on individuals within the sports realm. By  enhancing knowledge and sensitivity, the sporting community can proactively engage in  creating an environment intolerant of abuse. 

Building upon education, establishing clear and accessible reporting mechanisms is  paramount. Sports organizations must ensure that individuals feel confident in reporting  incidents without fear of retaliation. Transparent reporting procedures, coupled with  strict confidentiality measures, can facilitate a more open dialogue and empower those  affected to come forward. Regularly reviewing and refining these mechanisms in  collaboration with stakeholders can further enhance their effectiveness and  responsiveness. 

In tandem with reporting, the implementation of robust support systems is crucial.  Developing counselling services and mental health resources specific to the sporting  context can provide essential assistance to individuals affected by abuse or  harassment. Recognizing the potential long-term psychological impact, sports  organizations should prioritize the well-being of their members by offering accessible  and confidential support services. Additionally, creating a culture that encourages  teammates and peers to look out for one another can foster a supportive community,  reducing the isolation often experienced by victims. 

Furthermore, instituting stringent consequences for perpetrators is vital in deterring  abusive behavior. Sports organizations should articulate clear codes of conduct,  emphasizing a zero-tolerance policy for abuse and harassment. Implementing thorough  investigations and appropriate sanctions for confirmed cases sends a strong message  that such behavior will not be tolerated. Collaborating with legal authorities, where  necessary, reinforces the gravity of the issue and aligns sports organizations with  broader societal expectations regarding accountability for abusive actions. 

In recognition of the intersectionality of abuse, tailored strategies are essential.  Acknowledging that different demographics within the sporting community may face  distinct challenges, preventative measures should be inclusive and sensitive to various  identities. This entails developing targeted initiatives to address gender-based  discrimination, racial bias, and other forms of intersectional abuse. By adopting an  inclusive approach, sports organizations can create environments that celebrate  diversity and actively work against discrimination and bias. 

Moreover, leveraging technology responsibly can be instrumental in preventing abuse in  the digital realm. Sports organizations should establish guidelines for online behavior,  emphasizing the responsible use of social media platforms. Providing training on digital  etiquette and the potential consequences of online abuse can empower athletes,  coaches, and staff to navigate the digital landscape safely. Collaborating with  technology companies to implement safeguards against cyberbullying and harassment  within sports communities is also a proactive step towards ensuring a secure online  environment. 

Incorporating the voices of athletes and survivors is integral to the development and  evaluation of prevention strategies. Establishing athlete advisory councils or survivor  advocacy groups within sports organizations can provide valuable perspectives on the  effectiveness of existing measures and inform the creation of new initiatives. Actively  engaging with those who have experienced abuse ensures that preventative strategies  are grounded in the lived experiences of those most affected.

Lastly, fostering a culture of accountability and continuous improvement is fundamental.  Sports organizations should regularly assess the efficacy of their prevention strategies  through feedback mechanisms, surveys, and evaluations. This iterative process allows  for the identification of gaps and the adaptation of measures to evolving challenges. By  demonstrating a commitment to ongoing improvement, sports organizations can instill  confidence in their members that preventative efforts are not static but responsive to the  evolving nature of abuse and harassment. 


In conclusion, the prevention of abuse and harassment in sports and athletics  necessitates a concerted and comprehensive approach. By combining education,  robust reporting mechanisms, support services, consequences for perpetrators,  intersectional strategies, responsible technology use, survivor engagement, and a  commitment to continuous improvement, the sporting community can create an  environment that prioritizes the well-being and safety of all its members. 

By following these recommendations, our research can make a real difference in  preventing abuse and harassment in the sports and fitness community, creating an  environment Sports arenas are safer, more respectful and more inclusive for all  involved. 


1. Toftegaard Nielsen, M., & Ottesen, L. (2018). Preventing sexual  harassment in sport: Exploring the theoretical framework of an education based approach. European Journal for Sport and Society, 15(2), 122-139.  This article discusses an education- based approach to preventing sexual  harassment in sports and provides a theoretical framework. 

2. Mountjoy, M., Junge, A., Alonso, J. M., Clarsen, B., Pluim, B. M., Shrier, I.,  & Verhagen, E. (2018). Consensus statement on the methodology of injury  and illness surveillance in FINA (aquatic sports).  

3. International Safeguarding Children in Sport Working Group. (2020).  Keeping children safe in sport: Recommendations for safeguarding in  sport organizations. This report offers recommendations for safeguarding  children in sports organizations and preventing abuse and harassment. 

4. Parent, S., & Fortier, K. (2020). A conceptual framework of abuse in sport  organizations: A sociocultural perspective. Sport Management Review,  23(3), 427- 441. This report provides a conceptual framework for understanding abuse in sports organizations from a sociocultural  perspective, offering insights into prevention strategies. 

5. Hartill, M. (2016). The grooming process in sport: Narratives of sexual  harassment and abuse. Sport Management Review, 19(1), 5-19. This  report explores the grooming process in sports, providing valuable insights  into the patterns and dynamics of harassment and abuse.

6. Mountjoy, M., Junge, A., Alonso, J. M., Clarsen, B., Pluim, B. M., Shrier, I.,  & Verhagen, E. (2018). Consensus statement on the methodology of injury  and illness surveillance in FINA (aquatic sports). British Journal of Sports  Medicine, 52(17), 1077- 1084. While primarily focused on injury and  illness surveillance, this consensus statement by FINA (aquatic sports)  addresses athlete safety and well-being, which is relevant to abuse and  harassment prevention.


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