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Humiliated and emaciated. How coaches push female athletes to death

While you are reading this text, at least one athlete from aesthetic sports (figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics) is standing on the scales. The numbers that appeared, the reflection in the mirror and the protruding bones on the hips do not play a role. She hates herself. The voices of the coaches are heard in my head: “You are ugly fat. Are you not ashamed to open your mouth for food at all? If there is a weight gain at the weigh-in, I will expel you from training. Go to the striptease, such asses are valued there.”

This “Crawling line” accompanies her throughout her adult career at best. At worst, children begin to learn that they are fat as early as nine years old. Then they begin to lose weight at any cost.

The price is high. Perverted for life eating habits, mental disorder, low self-esteem and fixation on the topic of food, health problems. Sometimes the outcome is almost irreversible. Anorexia nervosa is a significant lack of weight against the background of severe food restrictions and intense physical exertion. A disease that can end in death.

Here is a small selection of dramatic stories: br>

1994American gymnast Christy Heinrich has died at the age of 22 due to anorexia. The girl reached the point that her organs refused. Five years earlier, one of the judges at the competition told her: “You are fat, you need to lose weight urgently.”

2004. Japanese figure skater Akiko Suzuki missed the season due to anorexia. It took her a year to recover and return to the sport at 19. This is one of the most optimistic examples on the topic.

2014.Figure skater Yulia Antipova, weighing 24 kilograms, was admitted to an Israeli clinic with a diagnosis of anorexia. The sport was over.

2017. Olympic champion Yulia Lipnitskaya admitted that anorexia preceded the end of her career. Because of her, the athlete suffered for several years.

2020.World champion in rhythmic gymnastics Alexandra Soldatova said that she had been suffering from bulimia for two years. With this eating disorder, the patient consumes a large amount of food, and then gets rid of it with the help of artificially induced vomiting.

In the same year, the Universiade champion in ice dancing Betina Popova ended her career and spoke about similar problems , with whom she lived for almost her entire career.

2021.Gymnast Maria Stefanenko admitted that she lost up to 25 kilograms after many years of bulimia. She left the sport with a diagnosis of “Anorexia”. 150 calories per day (at a rate of about 2000 calories). The girl is still experiencing difficulties in matters of nutrition.

2022.Ice dancing world junior champion Anastasia Skoptsova admitted after her retirement that at the height of her eating problems she took 40 laxative tablets at a time.

In the same year, Italian gymnast Nina Corradini gave a confession. For several years she took laxatives because of coaches who insulted her for being overweight, which seriously undermined her health. She was immediately supported by other Italians – Anna Basta and Julia Galtorossa. Quote from Anna's post:

“In my ears the coach's cry about my body. At night I dream of scales.”

The Italian Gymnastics Federation sent a statement to the prosecutor's office. The organization promised to conduct a detailed investigation.

It is not only the very fact of what is happening that is terrible. The same problems have been repeated for decades in different countries, schools and sports. In America, Europe, Japan and Russia, there are still trainers who have no idea about the physiology, nutrition and psychology of children. This is where the girls' statements about the trials and spoiled health, which are repeated like obsessive nightmares, are born.

A huge number of such episodes will never be made public. Because it doesn't benefit anyone. It is convenient for coaches to get results using the hammer and anvil method. Federations cover their own reputation and cherish the medals won at any cost. Athletes are afraid of judgment.

Fans, for the most part, do not want to know anything unsightly about their favorite sport. Or they take the side of brute force. Advice is given from the couch about who needs to lose and how many kilograms in order to stop falling from turns, start jumping quadruple lutz again, or just look “decent” in a dress.

About something American figure skater Caitlin Hawayek recently told a similar story. Fans approached her after the competition and asked to take a photo, and whispered in her ear that she “wouldn't hurt to lose weight.” Just imagine that colleagues at work, friends at the bar and even a neighbor on the porch make comments about your weight.Athletes sometimes do not realize how much they stop feeling the body. This is what psychologists call deprivation. Something similar is experienced by victims of sexual violence, for example. Why would a body be something personal when so many people are bursting with desire to call you fat, grab onto the skin on your stomach, or say: “Stop eating, otherwise …” Next on the list, choose what you are most afraid of losing. For example, a place in the national team, the role of a prima in a group, medals or the attention of a coach.

Everything is complicated by the fact that sport is impossible without weight control, all participants in the process are interested in this. Extra pounds lead to injury. They interfere with the stamina needed to skate the same four-minute long free skate. Finally, weight can affect the quality of elements (primarily jump elements) and cause errors. It turns out that you need to monitor your weight and stick to some reasonable number?

Certainly yes. But in an ideal world, weight control doesn't lead to bulimia, anorexia, tears at the weigh-in, panic attacks at the sight of food, and taking packs of laxatives. A specialist sitting on a diet of apples and cigarettes cannot be the standard of a whole group. It is unacceptable to call others cows, grunt them in response to “hello” and put athletes on the scales four times a day.

The scandal with the Italian gymnasts has passed into the stage of trial and investigation. Some conclusions will be drawn. Guilty, perhaps, will be punished, and relations in the team should change towards more humane. It will be impossible to scoff at the gymnasts, promising them what they, with such a lifestyle, simply run the risk of falling short.

A lot of hidden “tin” between times can be heard from athletes in interviews or seen in their social networks. You won’t immediately understand how dangerous experiments they conduct with themselves. Alina Zagitova admitted that before the Olympics she did not drink water, but only rinsed her mouth. This is a direct path to dehydration and even greater fluid retention in the body. Why didn't any of the coaches or doctors of the national team tell her about this?Victoria Sinitsina ran for hours in a film and three layers of clothing. Doctors will confirm that such training is no more effective than regular running, but the load on the heart increases significantly, as does the risk of dehydration. Rolls of cling film were also seen on one of Anna Shcherbakova's photos on social networks. Next to a jar that looks a lot like Squeezy's protein/fiber mixture. Yulia Lipnitskaya ate it in the Olympic season, dissolving it in kefir.

Even Alena Savchenko experimented in different ways during her career. She starved, sat on juice diets and drank kerosene (supposedly to cleanse the body). She talked about all this in her autobiography. There should be a postscript “Do not repeat, it's dangerous!”

The list is endless. There are rare exceptions with an initially fast metabolism and an asthenic physique. But even they are sometimes involved in a senseless struggle with kilograms, food and common sense. Because low weight in the system of aesthetic sports is considered a guarantor of the loyalty of judges and the love of coaches. Between him and hypothetical gold, success and recognition put an equal sign. At the same time, the ways in which weight is reduced and the consequences that threaten the body are thrown out of the equation.

The problem could begin to be solved by the introduction of a code of dietetics, developed by the federation together with leading experts and sports doctors. It could prescribe the harm of daily weighing, the inadmissibility of public discussion of weight, basic recommendations on nutrition and keeping fit. Tips for when and how much water to drink. Explanations that taking a laxative and induced vomiting only give a short-term effect and are tantamount to planting a bomb in the body. It will definitely explode, then everyone will have no time for gold.

You can also add an order for official use to the code. It contains contact numbers of psychologists and nutritionists, to whom any athlete can apply for individual recommendations. This would be a really useful and even innovative experience. and gymnasts received an indulgence for the daily eating of rolls, fast food and cakes. A rare professional allows himself this. The most vulnerable are disciplined girls at a transitional age or with physique features that are at least a little different from the “physics” of a dry teenager.

Russian athletes are now suspended from international competitions anyway. So why not spend time in isolation on a qualitative internal breakthrough, on improving the system at all levels? No need to look back at Europe. Like, in Italy bullying and bullying. It is necessary that it be right and good with us.

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors

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