An independent study shows that British gymnasts have been systematically subjected to physical and mental abuse for years. According to the survey, the British Gymnastics Association put winning medals and achieving international success above the safety of young gymnasts, who have been physically and mentally abused.
Researcher Annie White explores issues of systemic abuse in a 306-page report. The investigation began in August 2020 at the request of UK Sport and Sport England, among others, after allegations of abuse in the sport. More than 400 complaints were investigated.
The report shows it is a “cultural problem” that includes physical and mental abuse, insults, ongoing training after injuries and “physical shame” and training burdens. Some athletes were also not allowed to go to the toilet or have a drink during training.
White accuses former British gymnastics chief Jane Allen, who retired at the end of 2020, of a “lack of leadership” and “an organizational failure to put the central importance of the well-being of athletes first”.
Seventeen recommendations were made and White also notes that publishing the ombudsman would be a clear step in the right direction. UK Sport and Sport England accept the results and support all recommendations. “The gymnasts’ experiences being shared are shocking and disturbing to read. No one in the sport should be subjected to such abuse,” they said in a statement.
The British Gymnastics Association has said it is ready to change the sport. We will not be shy about doing what is necessary. I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to the gymnasts who have suffered as a result of not living up to the standards we set for ourselves. “We’re sorry,” said Executive Director Sarah Powell.
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