Sarah-Ève Pelletier will leave her position as sports integrity commissioner early next year.
The Quebec lawyer and former artistic swimmer was appointed in April 2022 to head the Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner (BCIS), which opened its doors two months later to analyze complaints relating to abuse and mistreatment in sport in the country.
After 18 months in office, the Sport Dispute Resolution Center of Canada (SDRCC), which helped establish the BCIS, announced that Pelletier will leave his position in early 2024 for personal reasons.
The mandate of the BCIS is to independently analyze reports and complaints of abuse, although its scope is primarily limited to federally funded sports organizations that have ratified the letter of understanding submitted by the Ministry of Sports .
Most provincial, territorial and community sport organizations have still not ratified this document, and are therefore not subject to BCIS rules.
Its independence has also been questioned. Sports Minister Carla Qualtrough announced last week that the BCIS will no longer be hosted by the SDRCC.
“As Commissioner of Integrity in Sport, I was guided by a deep motivation to act as an agent of positive change for the Canadian sport community, with athletes at its heart,” announced the Commissioner Pelletier by press release. Since the beginning of this role, my passion for this mission has never wavered. I am proud of what we have built within the Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner (BCIS).
“I am certain that this will serve as a springboard for the evolution of the program, which can only be beneficial to the advancement of safe sport for all,” she added.
A CRDSC spokesperson said Pelletier informed the organization of his intentions to leave before Qualtrough’s Dec. 11 announcement separating BCIS from the CRDSC.
“Sarah-Ève played a key role in these first stages of Sport Without Abuse,” said Marie-Claude Asselin, CEO of the CRDSC. She and the team she built have laid an impressive foundation for the program’s future. »
The federal government had budgeted 16 million in its 2022 budget to finance the first three years of operation of the BCIS.
“Sarah-Ève’s departure was confirmed before the establishment of the commission on the future of sport in Canada and other decisions that were made last week,” Qualtrough said. Thanks to his involvement as a commissioner, we are better prepared to handle and follow up on complaints. “There will be no disruption to BCIS services. The BCIS will continue to receive, investigate and sanction mistreatment in the Canadian sports system,” she assured.
After ratifying the Letter of Understanding with the BCIS, a sports organization and its employees are required to adhere to the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Counter Abuse in Sport (CCUMS), developed to prevent various forms of abuse, including grooming, neglect, and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, in addition to including a list of other prohibited behaviors, such as retaliation, failure to report abuse, intentional filing of false allegations, and ‘abuse of power.
In its first year of existence, the BCIS received 193 complaints, 66 of which fell within its mandate.
In addition, 78 new complaints were filed between July 1 and October 31, 2023. It is specified that 38 were admissible, and that six others are currently under study.
Pelletier had mentioned that if the complaints were not admissible for the BCIS, then his organization would take care of redirecting them to the right place.
The BCIS added that 86 sports organizations have ratified the letter of understanding, representing 17,000 participants across the country.
An estimated 60,000 more participants would be subject to BCIS rules by participating in national championships.
The search for the next commissioner will begin in the new year. Pelletier will retain his current role for the first months of 2024, in order to support and facilitate the transition for the team and his successor.