The founders of Gymnasts for Change Canada have called for the Government to launch a national enquiry into sexual abuse in the sport ©Gymnasts for Change Canada

A leading activist for child protection in gymnastics has told a Canadian Parliamentary Committee that her sport is "rotting from the top down and from the bottom up".

Kim Shore, co-founder of Gymnasts for Change Canada has testified that mistreatment has worsened since her own days as a schoolgirl gymnast 35 years ago when she was only 13.

"Our spirits have been broken," Shore, one of the 500 former gymnasts to call for a national investigation, told Members of Parliament (MP) from the Canadian House of Commons Committee on the Status of Women.

"As an athlete, I was groomed," Shore recalled.

"If a parent (makes) a cigarette burn on a child they’ll be called to task, but a coach who physically damages a child is not held to the same account.

"Gymnastics has forgotten that these are children. 

"Coaches use the language of 'I’m here to produce elite athletes'.

"We don’t produce children, we nurture them, we grow them, we teach them."

In April, Olympic gymnastics coach Dave Brubaker was given a life ban and his wife Liz, who ran Bluewater Gymnastics in Sarnia, Ontario was suspended until 2024, after investigations into sexual, emotional and physical abuse of elite gymnasts under their charge.

In July, former gymnast Thierry Pellerin admitted to child pornography charges in Quebec, related to offences against young boys between the ages of six and 12.

"We trusted that our coaches knew what was best for us," former child gymnast Amelia Cline, a co-founder of Gymnasts for Change Canada told the MPs.

"We didn't know that an adult manipulating us to the point of us screaming in pain was not appropriate."

Cline called for a change to how adults involved with children in sport are recorded.

Although Gymnastics Canada keeps a public list of suspended and banned officials, this is wiped clean once the suspension had been served.

"As a result, this individual could theoretically continue working not just in gymnastics but in other sports because there is currently no disciplinary history," Cline said.

"The kids spend all this time with these adults and imagine that there isn’t a registry," University of Toronto kinesiology dean Gretchen Kerr, an expert on athlete maltreatment said.

Gymnastics Canada is also now facing a class action suit from former gymnasts who claim they were physically, sexually or psychologically abused while involved in the sport. 

"We at Global Athlete have heard from athletes in the sports of gymnastics, soccer, bobsleigh, skeleton, athletics cross country ski, water polo, swimming, artistic swimming, boxing, canoe kayak rowing and figure skating," Rob Koehler, director general of the Sport Advocacy group Global Athlete informed the hearing.

"I've shared lived experiences with me that have ripped my heart apart. 

"Sport has not been able to self-regulate and it almost appears that they’re more interested in protecting the brand than exposing the truth."