Newswise — LEAWOOD, KAN – The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) has released a position statement regarding “Sexual Violence in Sport”.

Last year, AMSSM convened a group of experts to help address the problem of sexual violence in sport.  This AMSSM Sexual Violence in Sport Task Force held a series of meetings over seven months, beginning in July 2019.  The position statement published this week represents one product of the Task Force’s work. The objective of this document is to elevate awareness of this critical issue among sports medicine physicians and to declare an organizational commitment to engage in collaborative, multidisciplinary solutions to reduce sexual violence in sport.

The position statement is being simultaneously published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Sports Health and Current Sports Medicine Reports.

“Sports medicine physicians recognize that all forms of sexual violence in sport are completely unacceptable, and we must raise our voices to help protect athletes,” said Jennifer Koontz, MD, MPH, FAMSSM, who served as Chair for the Sexual Violence in Sport Task Force. “AMSSM and the dedicated experts on the task force are committed to collaborative, multi-disciplinary solutions that educate sports medicine physicians on sexual violence prevention and assisting sexual violence survivors.”

The document declares that sexual violence in sport is an egregious violation of an athlete’s right to safety and is unacceptable. It is a serious societal and public health issue that can affect any athlete and may have severe and long-standing negative impacts on an athlete’s physical, psychological, and social well-being.

Sports medicine physicians strive to create a safe environment for all athletes in a variety of sport and clinical settings. As the largest organization of sports medicine physicians in the United States, AMSSM is dedicated to reducing sexual violence in sport through collaborative, multidisciplinary engagement.

The position statement underscores AMSSM’s commitment to raising awareness related to sexual violence in sport and commits to reducing sexual violence in all levels of sport (youth, high school, collegiate, elite, and professional) through a series of past and ongoing actions outlined in the position statement, including:

  • Condemning the actions of sports medicine physicians and other health care providers or individuals who perpetrate sexual violence or passively facilitate sexual violence through inaction.
  • Encouraging organizations, teams, and institutions to ensure independent reporting mechanisms are available to help avoid inherent conflicts of interest that may be present.
  • Suggesting sports medicine physicians collaborate with sports organizations, teams, and institutions to evaluate and implement policies and procedures that will most effectively reduce sexual violence in sport within their organization.
  • Developing strategies to help limit known sexual predators from working or volunteering in sport.

“Our hope is that schools or national governing bodies which are responsible for athlete safety will take these recommendations into account and work with all similarly-tasked organizations to ensure that no training room ever becomes a systematic venue for abuse again,” said AMSSM Immediate Past-President Chad Carlson, MD, FAMSSM, who convened the task force. “As an organization, AMSSM will choose to listen when victims speak out, and then speak out ourselves. We choose to stand between those who would cause harm and those who need our protection. And we choose to partner proactively with others to systematize athlete safety.

“We cannot change the past. But we can acknowledge it, grieve with the victims of abuse and work to change the future.  The creation of this document, and the ongoing work of this task force, serve as a guidepost toward that future.”

Journal Link: Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine