SINGAPORE: Sport Singapore (SportSG) has suspended a former coach of national hurdler Kerstin Ong for two years due to inappropriate conduct.
In a letter addressed to Ong dated Oct 29, which Channel NewsAsia has seen, the governing body said it had suspended the coach's membership with the National Registry of Coaches for two years, with effect from Oct 29.
This comes after Ong lodged an official complaint with SportSG in January, accusing her former coach of misconduct.
In her statement, Ong said she felt uncomfortable about her coach's verbal and physical behaviour.
Following this, SportSG convened a panel to look into the issue and hear from Ong and relevant witnesses, as well as the coach.
It concluded that the coach "had made physical contact" with Ong during a training session, that he was "not vigilant in obtaining explicit permission when making physical contact" with the hurdler and that he used "inappropriate language during training".
The panel found that the coach breached "three key principles of the Coach's Code of Ethics", said SportSG in its letter.
These were: The principle of respect for individuals, the principle of responsible coaching and the principle of integrity in actions.
Ong said she was motivated to step forward after her friend, Hong Kong hurdler Vera Lui, spoke out as part of a burgeoning movement around the world last year encouraging people to share experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
Several cases of misconduct involving local coaches have emerged this year, including the conviction of a former rope-skipping coach for committing sexual offences against a student, as well as a football coach who was sentenced to jail and caning after sexually assaulting seven boys.
On Wednesday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu announced that a commission would be formed to develop guidelines and establish a reporting process for sexual misconduct in the local sporting fraternity.
A SportSG spokesperson on Thursday elaborated on what the suspension meant.
Upon NROC membership suspension, the coach will not be entitled to any membership related benefits. These include not being eligible to apply for permission to conduct coaching activities within SportSG's facilities and premises or facilities managed by SportSG. He will also not be able to "hold himself out as a current NROC member".
The coach has until Nov 29 to submit a written appeal.
"SportSG would like to reiterate that coaches and sport administrators should conduct themselves professionally and be role models to their athletes," added the spokesperson.
"Ultimately the coach-athlete relationship is founded on trust and most coaches take that seriously."