The bruises all over Canadian Olympic swimmer Mary-Sophie Harvey’s body have started to fade but the mental scars of her traumatic experience on the final night of the world aquatics championships in June are still very raw.
Speaking with reporters Friday, Harvey, 22, from Montreal, talked about the moments leading up to her losing consciousness after being drugged at a party in a club near the swimming venue in Hungary, Budapest where the championships were taking place.
She also said she isn’t the only swimmer who was drugged at the party.
“I’ve heard about other incidents that night also. I was not the only swimmer,” said Harvey, said she suffered bruised ribs and a concussion. “I’m the first one coming forward about this but hopefully it’ll help them share theirs as well.”
The governing body for the sport, FINA, and Swimming Canada are now working together on an investigation into what happened. Swimming Canada officials have also forwarded the information they have regarding Harvey’s incident to their independent safe sport investigator.
“FINA is aware of the latest media reports regarding Mary-Sophie Harvey concerning events following the conclusion of the 2022 World Aquatics Championships,” the organization said in a statement Friday. “Consistent with FINA’s comprehensive safeguarding measures, an independent investigation officer has been appointed and is investigating.”
‘I was fine and then I wasn’t’
“After worlds basically all the swimmers wanted to go out and celebrate the great championships we had,” Harvey said of the night. “I’ve heard bits from people to piece the night together. They were telling me stuff and it felt like they were telling me a story I was the main character in and I didn’t feel I was in it.”
Harvey said the party had swimmers and non-swimmers from around the world. She said she was with friends, had four drinks over the course of the evening, and that she felt in control and aware of her surroundings.
“They told me I was fine and then I wasn’t,” she said. “One of my friends found me on the street and apparently I was telling her to not leave me alone and I was really persistent on this. When she was telling me this, that’s when I got really scared because I have no idea how I got outside. I can’t recall telling her this stuff. She reassured me she would not leave me alone. By this time from what I’ve heard I passed out and they had to carry me to my hotel room.”
Harvey said the reason she wanted to share her story was because she felt there was a lack of resources for her when she returned to Montreal.
“When I got home it didn’t really sink in until I saw the bruises. I went to training and I broke down a little bit. Seeing the bruises made me think maybe something happened and I didn’t know. It got me scared ,” Harvey said.
“At the end of that practice I called my friend and her mom is a doctor. They convinced me to call and seek help to see if anything happened. I called the line that was supposed to help victims. That’s when I got struck by the lack of resources victims have in these situations.”
She said it took two days for anyone to return Harvey’s call and she was told it was too late to get a toxicology report done.
Memory of championships ‘tarnished’
Harvey won a bronze medal in the 4×200-metre freestyle relay at the world championships after swimming in the preliminaries. She also finished eighth in the 200-meter individual medley.
She said the excitement of not only Canada’s best performance at a swimming world championships but also her individual success has been tainted by this incident.
“I had a good world championships. It was one of my best meets in a while,” she said. “It was my first big international medal that I got there. And I remember opening the medal box at home and I didn’t feel it belonged to me. I feel my body didn’t belong to me. I was just going through the motions.
“This wonderful meet I had was tarnished by this.”
Harvey also revealed she tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. She’s recovering in isolation near her home in Montreal.
Harvey competed for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. She’s scheduled to swim in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, July 28-Aug. 8.