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More than 100 Canadian boxers are calling for the resignation of Boxing Canada’s high-performance director Daniel Trepanier and an independent investigation into the sport’s culture and safe sport practice.

In a letter sent to Sport Canada on Wednesday morning, athletes said Boxing Canada has cultivated a toxic culture of fear and silence.

“There has been a consistent trend for over a decade where Boxing Canada athletes and coaches who spoke out against wrongdoing or advocated for what is right end up outside of the organization,” the letter said. “Many athletes feel they have suffered physical abuse, psychological abuse and neglect by the organization because of their failure to address these issues. Repeated attempts have been made to bring these issues to light, and they have been ignored or dismissed.”

The athletes painted a picture of a toxic environment where favouritism was rampant leading to arbitrary decisions around things like team selection, compounded by a lack of communication.

“It always kind of felt like there was this push of almost having to do it on your own because you weren’t getting any help from them,” said Mandy Bujold, an 11-time national flyweight champion, two-time Pan American Games gold medalist and two-time Olympian. “It definitely made you think from time to time: Why am I doing this? What’s the point of this?”

Bryan Colwell, a two-time Canadian heavyweight champion, left behind amateur boxing to turn pro, saying he had a “very, very difficult and trying experience with Boxing Canada.”

“All the things being reported about favouritism and toxic training environments, all that’s true, and we all experienced it in different ways,” said. “I wasn’t one of the favourites, and it was made blatantly clear every day that I was [in Montreal].”

The Victoria native, who trained at the team’s national base in Montreal for a year, said, for example, he was sent to Bulgaria on two days’ notice to fight, with his international ranking – and thus federal funding status – on the line.

“I didn’t find out from my team telling me but because the account manager with Boxing Canada called me to me to confirm my flight time, and I said ‘What flight?’ ‘You’re going to Bulgaria. Don’t you know?’ That was my one opportunity to compete [internationally] that whole year.”

He lost his opening bout.

The boxers said they compiled a comprehensive collection of experiences and submitted it to Boxing Canada’s board of directors, but no formal investigation was launched to look into allegations.

Wednesday’s letter was signed by 121 current and former boxers back to 2008. It was sent to Canada’s Minister for Sport Pascale St-Onge, Own the Podium CEO Anne Merklinger, the Boxing Canada board of directors and AthletesCAN.

The letter comes amid what St-Onge has called a “crisis” in Canadian sport. She said there were accusations of maltreatment, sexual abuse or misuse of funds directed to at least eight national sport organizations in her first five months in office.

Canadian bobsled and skeleton athletes wrote a similar letter in March asking for the resignation of their acting president and high-performance director. They have said they won’t participate in proposed mediation, calling it a “Band-Aid solution.” And a group of some 70 gymnasts – it’s since grown to more than 400 – wrote to Sport Canada asking for an independent investigation into their sport’s culture of maltreatment.

The boxers identified four major areas of concern: governance and transparency, safety, toxic culture and harassment and restriction of opportunities.

They said there’s a lack of transparency and impartiality around such things as the dispersal of funds.

There’s “blatant disregard” for both the mental and physical health of athletes, including allegations of sexual misconduct that have “been ignored and not reported” to the board. They wrote that athletes often train and compete in unsafe environments, and have been forced to spar despite having clear signs of concussions or with significant weight disparities.

The boxers say athletes have experienced and witnessed harassment in the form of homophobic, misogynistic and sexist comments by the program’s management.

And Boxing Canada’s decisions around team selection, they said, is based on subjective discretion. It’s prompted several high-performance athletes, they said, to turn pro earlier than anticipated and other athletes to compete for other countries internationally.

In a lengthy statement Wednesday, Boxing Canada said it “prides itself on values such as health and safety, integrity and accountability and takes these concerns very seriously.”

The national organization said it has taken action in recent months to improve transparency and governance, including creating a high-performance advisory group and separating the high-performance director role from coaching responsibilities.

In addition, at the direction of the board, Boxing Canada engaged a third-party expert in March to conduct a high-performance culture review, “to ensure that athletes and coaches can excel in an optimal training environment.”

Former artistic swimmer Sarah-Ève Pelletier was hired last month as Canada’s first sport integrity commissioner. She’ll oversee the central hub of Canada’s new safe sport program through the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. St-Onge has vowed the office, which was awarded to the SDRCC last summer, will be operational by the end of spring.