Water Polo Canada: an investigation and a suspension

Water Polo Canada: An Investigation and Suspension


The troubling allegations of four former Canadian team athletes who filed a $5.5 million civil lawsuit against Water Polo Canada have the organization reacting.

Just over 24 hours after receiving the statement from the plaintiffs who claim to have suffered significant harm between 2004 and 2016, Water Polo Canada released a statement late Friday afternoon through the Board Chair, Kathleen Dawson.

The organization is taking two concrete actions in response to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs claim to have been victims of physical, psychological and emotional abuse in addition to sexual harassment.

“The council Board of Directors of Water Polo Canada will launch an independent internal investigation into allegations presented in a legal proceeding that alleges female water polo athletes were abused between 2004 and 2016,” Ms. Dawson writes.

The other measure affects Patrick Oaten, one of the four coaches targeted by the complainants.

Unlike Daniel Berthelette, Guy Baker and Baher El Sakkary, Oaten was still in post with Water Polo Canada.

“The head coach of the senior men's national team has been suspended pending the investigation.”

It is not clear whether he will continue to receive his salary.

Water Polo Canada maintains that it has measures in place to promote a healthy environment.

“Mandatory participation in Safe Sport Training, provided by Respect in Sport, for National Team Coaches, all Canadian Championship League (CCL) Coaches, all WPC Employees and all Board Members in place since 2017; a secure reporting process allowing athletes to report any concerns anonymously through Ms. Lise McLean, our independent third-party agent; and the creation of a working group focused on sports safety. The group will be comprised of former athletes, referees and provincial sports administrators, WPC staff and board members [based on] recommendations from ITP Sport.”

< p>Water Polo Canada supports joining the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner's (BCIS) Safe Sport Program.

“We are actively working to become signatories to the Safe Sport Program.”


“Zero tolerance”, says the Quebec Water Polo Federation

Earlier today, the Quebec Water Polo Federation issued a press release in support of the four athletes.

“In my name and that of the federation, I offer support and sympathy to the victims. We are in solidarity with them and support their denunciation efforts,” said General Manager Olivier Bertrand.

“Water-polo Quebec takes the situation very seriously and recalls that no gesture of abuse, harassment, negligence or violence is tolerated in the practice of its sport, he added. With us, it's zero tolerance.”

“It is with dismay that Water-polo Quebec has learned that four former national team players have been victims of physical, psychological and emotional abuse as well as of sexual harassment by members of the coaching staff between the years 2004 and 2016. On my behalf and that of the federation, I offer support and sympathy to the victims. We stand in solidarity with them and support their denunciation efforts”, declared the general manager Olivier Bertrand.

The CEO says he wants to send a strong message.

“With us, it is zero tolerance,” said Olivier Bertrand. Beyond the legal duty, the moral duty to act and denounce is unequivocal. It is important to speak out against all forms of abuse and harassment in sport.

Any member or non-member of the federation who experiences or witnesses inappropriate acts should report it here.”