Anton Siekel has assured Slovak athletes that they are safe with their National Olympic Committee ©Andrej Galica/SOŠV

President of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee (SOŠV) Anton Siekel is assured that the country has a sound procedure to ensure the safety of athletes and that they can trust the body.

Hungarian swimming coach Gábor Szauder was heavily criticised by several of his athletes in 2020, including in Slovakia where he coached from 2013 to 2018, for several instances of abusive behaviour.

After his stint in Slovakia, Szauder was hired as national coach for Canada Artistic Swimming.

He was accused of making sexist remarks, weight-shaming, and Islamophobia by five former elite swimmers last year in Canada.

The quintet filed a lawsuit against the organisation for failing to provide a safe environment. 

The abuse is something Siekel is determined to prevent.

"Overall, the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee promote safety for our athletes," Siekel told insidethegames at the European Youth Olympic Festival here in Banská Bystrica in Slovakia.

"This is something that I am very proud of and I am happy that we have colleagues who are prepared to have good cooperation with the National Federations.

"We are very open, we are listening very closely to our athletes, and we are helping them.

Anton Siekel, front second from right, was at the Banská Bystrica EYOF as his country hosted the event ©EYOF Banská Bystrica 2022
Anton Siekel, front second from right, was at the Banská Bystrica EYOF as his country hosted the event ©EYOF Banská Bystrica 2022

"If they tell us about some wrongdoing we will act immediately and investigate the matter appropriately.

"They can trust us and that is very important."

Canadian artistic swimmers made it clear that abusive behaviour by coaches and body-shaming began before Szauder became head coach of the national team, as reported by The New York Times.

An Instagram account called @mental_abuse_nac, was created for athletes to express their concerns and received more than 50 anonymous responses.

Sport in Canada has been rocked by instances of abuse being covered up.

Most recently, it was revealed that Hockey Canada had quietly settled a lawsuit with a woman who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by multiple players on the title-winning 2018 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship side.

Hockey Canada received heavy criticism over the settlement leading to the Canadian Government freezing its access to funding once it became public knowledge.

Police have also reopened an investigation into the incident.