A ballet academy based in Vienna, Austria has been hit by accusations that young dancers were encouraged to shed weight by smoking.

A report produced by an Austrian commission constituted to investigate the issue indicted the academy — which is adjudged one of the finest ballet academies in Europe — of endangering lives of its pupils by encouraging them to smoke to control their weight.

Susanne Reindl-Krauskopf, the commission’s head, further alleged the academy also exposed its students to “discrimination and negative medical effects,” adding some of them were often identified by their first names and clothes sizes.

“It is clear that children and adolescents are not sufficiently protected from discrimination, neglect and negative medical effects,” BBC quoted the commission’s report as saying.

Parts of its findings also stated the academy’s training facilities were not adequately controlled, thereby “endangering their wellbeing,” of the students.

The scandal was first brought to light by Falter, an Australian weekly newspaper, which published an article in April under the title “We Were Broken”.

In response to the claims, the institution – which was created in 1771 – said it has cut the number of performances and it would give a full response after studying the report.

Alexander Schallenberg, Austrian culture minister, has called for urgent action to address the report’s claims.

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