By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following the scandal of sexual misconduct and abuse by one of the coaches of Brazil’s men Olympic gymnastics’ team, one of the sport’s biggest sponsors, Caixa Economica Federal (CEF) said this week it is reviewing its contract with the team. CEF started to sponsor the Brazilian Olympic team in 2006 and had pledged to invest more than R$20 million until 2020.
According to CEF, it is assessing ‘all the measures necessary for the correct verification of the facts and relevant consequences’.
Former Olympic gymnastics’ coach Fernando Carvalho Lopes is being accused by more than 40 current and former gymnasts of sexual misconduct and abuse.
Former child gymnast sensation and 2011 Gold Medal Pan American Games, Petrix Barbosa, now 26, told TV Globo he was one of the coach’s ‘favorite’ athletes when he was a child.
“I woke up more than once with his hand down my pants,” said Barbosa, one of the few to publicly denounce Lopes. He said the coach often asked him and his teammates to show him their genitals, so that he could adapt the exercise routine to their growth development.
It is believed that Lopes abused dozens of boys training in the São Bernardo sports facilities in his twenty years as coach. Lopes was removed from his post a month before the 2016 Rio Olympics due to allegations of abuse.
Also under fire is the Brazilian Gymnastics Confederation (CBG), whose officials, say some of the athletes, knew about the abuses and looked the other way.
When rumors started to appear in the Brazilian media last month, the CBG released a statement saying that it had taken urgent measures to halt harassment and moral and sexual abuse, manipulation of results, doping and other forms of violence and fraud in sport. “No case of harassment or abuse will remain without rigorous investigation and eventual punishment,” stated the document.