Allegations of sexual abuse by young members of the German show jumping team have come to light just days before the start of the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

The German daily, Der Spiegel, has revealed that an investigation has been launched in the town of Koblenz, in central Germany, into claims that a group of young men on the national equestrian team “plied women with alcohol before sexually abusing them” at equestrian tournaments.

An unnamed 20-year-old is at the centre of the scandal. He is suspected of “sexually abusing, alone or with accomplices, young women during tournaments” in Germany and abroad, according to a statement from prosecutors. One victim was allegedly abused at the European championships in Samorin, Slovakia.

The chief director of the German Equestrian Federation, Sönke Lauterbach, has reportedly confirmed that an 18-year-old rider had already been given an 18-month ban for his role in the abuse.

Apparently, this behaviour comes as no surprise to insiders. In an article by The Local, famed show jumper Ludger Beerbaum is quoted as saying: “We’ve closed our eyes for too long. It starts with the parents, then the coaches and then those who are in charge of the federation. All of them have to accept responsibility now.”