In a story recently released by The Globe and Mail, a detailed account of a coach’s misconduct and sexual abuse of an athlete is highlighted. The story details running prodigy Mary Brown’s horrible encounter with University of Guelph and Speed River Track Club Coach Dave Scott-Thomas. This is only one of many stories of athletes taken advantage of by coaches/administration.
The rest of the article details how allegations were released against Scott-Thomas again in 2019 and he had been placed on a “leave of absence”. Scott-Thomas was dismissed later that year and the university released a statement that read that “during the course of reviewing this information and in the last 24 hours, the university became privy to new information regarding past unprofessional conduct.”
The article also details many accounts of Scott-Thomas disregarding injuries, treating athletes unfairly and fostering a cult like atmosphere on the team. Athletes would do anything to impress him, some even developed eating disorders. The article highlights the national level of success and attention Scott-Thomas was achieving which addresses the idea of using his success to justify his actions, or the idea that the school and Athletic’s Canada would be unwilling to address his actions because he was so successful and they would not want to lose him as a coach. In addition, the treatment of his athletes displays the danger of toxic coach-athlete relationships as well as a dangerous power dynamic that Scott-Thomas abused.
This sexual misconduct and abuse is not new to the world of sport. Athletes have been and continue to be taken advantage of by those in power like coaches and administration. Brown is only one of many to have been abused in this way. Cover ups and the way Athletics Canada and UofG refused to acknowledge the situation are why athletes like Brown are hesitant to speak up.