Amelia Cline, a retired Canadian gymnast is leading a class-action lawsuit against
the country’s gymnastics federation and five other provincial gymnastics federations
alleging years of physical and mental abuse by her coaches.
At the age of two, Cline says that her interest was obvious to her parents by the way
she’d be pulling “little baby chin-ups,” at the kitchen counter.
Soon she had developed into a serious athlete. By the time she was nine or 10, Cline
had outgrown her local coaches and was now travelling an hour from home to train at
an elite club.
For a while, her love of the sport continued, but Cline says everything changed when
Vladimir Lashin and his wife Svetlana arrived as the new coaching team. Cline says
that the mood in the gym quickly darkened.
“Immediately, it was verbally abusive,” she recalled. “If you made any mistakes, they
would scream and humiliate you. ‘This is rubbish, you’re rubbish,’ screamed at you
over and over again.”
According to Cline, it wasn’t long before the coaches resorted to physical abuse, too.
“I was warming-up [for a standing split] and my hamstring felt really tight, and he got
“He said something along the lines of, ‘You’re just faking, trying to get out of doing
this stretch,’ so he turned me around, grabbed my leg and forced it behind my ear.”
Cline can still recall the primal scream and the blinding pain, describing the
sensation as “excruciating.”
“It snapped my hamstring completely and took part of my pelvis with it,” she adds.
As the alarm bells in her sensory receptors began to register the searing pain,
Cline says that her coach offered no apology or remorse.
“He was angry, he screamed at me,” says Cline, adding that he accused her of lying
and tried to distance himself from any responsibility for her shocking injury.
“There was no offer of medical treatment, no one called my parents. I think I ended
up having to limp to the change room myself and call my parents to take me to the
hospital,” she says.
CNN reached out to Cline’s former coaches, who it’s believed have left Canada.
Multiple requests for comment were sent via email and to their Facebook pages, but
there has been no reply.
Barely a teenager, Cline became accustomed to a grueling schedule and painful
injuries — she says she broke her hand in three places and tore a muscle in her spine
that left her with a clot the size of a baseball.
Cline would attend school in the morning, then train from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. before
catching up on homework in the evening, often spending 30 hours a week in the gym.
She recalls that to give the appearance that her knees weren’t buckling on landing,
which would result in a points deduction by the judges, the coach worked with her to
permanently hyper-extend them.
With her feet on an elevated box and her legs raised from the floor, and she says
Lashin would sit on her knees for several minutes at a time. She estimates that he
weighed around 200 pounds.