Mehis Viru banned from coaching athletics for indefinite period

The Estonian Athletics Association (EKJL) has barred Mehis Viru from working as an athletics coach, due to violations of professional codes of conduct. The association's board on Wednesday adopted a decision to that effect.

That decision was based on violations of the requirements of paras III(2) and III(3)* of the ethics code for coaches. Athletics coach Mehis Viru had allegedly repeatedly, and over a long period of time, significantly violated the requirements of these regulations, violations which are such that he is not fit to work as a coach or other sports staff member, according to the association's board.

The EKJL had in August 2022 received four separate written statements from four different parties, alleging that Viru had engaged in unethical conduct and maltreatment of a minor under his training, in a manner adjudged to be appropriate to the post.

Since the statements reportedly contained references to inappropriate, unethical and best practice standards and behaviors befitting a coach, as well as possible violations of the coaches' code of ethics, the EKJL initiated disciplinary proceedings against Viru on August 29 of last year.

In order to carry out these procedural actions, the EKJL asked the Estonian Center for Integrity in Sports  (the national anti-sports doping body, hereinafter referred to by its Estonian abbreviation, the EADSE) for assistance, as a result of which the EADSE's chief investigator, Remo Perli, carried out the necessary procedural actions. During the course of this procedure, materials were also collected in relation to earlier periods (covering the years 2005-2022). Mehis Viru was was granted the right to reply and was also included in these proceedings.

As a result of the five-month long investigation, the disciplinary committee came to the conclusion that Viru had violated the requirements of the code of ethics for coaches and, according to p VIII of the same code, had also violated the professional requirements relating to a sports coach. The alleged violations took place over a longer period of time and against several athletes (one of whom was reportedly a minor). Due to data protection principles, the people who participated in the procedure are permitted anonymity, and their identities are known only to the committee.

On Wednesday, the disciplinary committee presented the EKJL board with a summary of the procedure and a proposal for making its, the EKJL's, decision. The board approved this proposal and decided to impose a ban on Viru from coaching athletics, for an indefinite period of time.

Viru has coached various top athletes including triple jumper Kaire Leibak (retired), high jumper Karmen Bruus, sprinter and hurdler Marielle Kleemeier, long jump/triple jump practitioner Liane Pintsaart and retired jumper Sirkka-Liisa Kivine. In 2006, the Estonian Women's Union (Eesti Naisliit) nominated Viru father of the year.

An EKJL press conference featuring EKJL president Erich Teigamägi, EKJL disciplinary committee member Margus Mugu and EADSE chief investigator Remo Perli was live-streamed by ERR's Estonian news portal.

* Para III(2) of the coaches' code of ethics states that a coach must recognize the contribution of all, and the right not to be verbally, physically and/or sexually harassed and exploited, while according to p III(3), a coach is required to behave in an adequate manner, and be an example to all.  


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Henrik Laever

Source: ERR Sport

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