Whyte magazine reviewed more than 400 complaints and discovered an “unacceptable culture” that has left countless young people humiliated, shamed and permanently harmed, psychologically or physically after participating in this sport.
By Tom Parmenter, Sky News
Last Updated: 06/16/22 3:01 pm
Young gymnasts were starved and hanged as punishment as part of a culture of abuse in British Gymnastics.
The Whyte Review, which examined more than 400 complaints, discovered an “unacceptable culture” that has left countless young people humiliated, embarrassed and permanently psychologically damaged. or physical after time participating in this sport.
The report found that trainers openly disparaged young girls about their weight – in some cases, gymnasts were forced to hang themselves in gyms for extended periods of time. for being late.
Another young athlete was forced to balance on the bar for two hours as a punishment.
Young players are also banned from going to the bathroom and banned from drinking water during lengthy training sessions.
One gymnast said they regularly took the oath from the age of 9.
Another said “the coach would scream and scream at us so much that I could smell (their) breath and feel (their) landing on my face.”
Exercisers are also forced to wear a “cap” if they are unable to complete a particular movement.
The sport’s obsession with an athlete’s weight and appearance was also raised as a central issue. The review said: “The weight loss is sometimes accompanied by an uneducated dietary attitude and a humiliating language choice.”
“The tyranny of the scale is coach-led and quite unnecessary.”
“Gymnasts have taken what can only be described as unhealthy steps, such as cleansing or dehydration, in order to keep their weight down to meet the requirements. of their coach.”
Review prompted after Netflix documentary Athlete A disclosed allegations of sexual abuse in US gymnastics. While 30 allegations of sexual abuse were brought under the UK investigation, the majority of complaints focus on physical and emotional abuse.
Gymnasts’ culture of silence and reliance on their trainers mean that complaints can be difficult to raise – if issues are raised, the resolution process is often unsuccessful.
The sport’s governing body, British Gymnastics, described as an “unofficial organisation” has been disconnected from the sport, gymnasts and those involved in the sport this.
The review said it “does not guarantee that clubs and coaches, including national coaches, act responsibly.”
Sarah Powell, who took over as chief executive of British Gymnastics in 2021, has issued a full apology.
“The practices of the past will not be the practices of the future.
“I think this is an important moment for safety not only in gymnastics but in all sports.
“This is a sincere apology… we have to set a new path, gymnastics will be different because of the bravery of those who spoke out.”
She vows to try to eliminate the sport of abusive coaches but admits some are still working in the sport.
Anne Whyte QC includes criticism aimed at politicians about the lack of independent oversight in sport.
“One wonders how many sports scandals there will be before the government appreciates they need to do more to protect children from participating in sport, an area where coaches don’t have the opportunity. central management agency and where most complaints lack independent resolution.
“The Ombudsman is a clear step in the right direction.”
In a joint statement Sport UK and Sport UK said: “The experiences of the gymnasts shared in this Review are confusing and sad to read. None in sport. subject to such abuse.”
“The assurance systems in place have clearly failed to identify, until relatively recently, longstanding cultural problems in gymnastics, and we regret this.
“British gymnastics has clearly failed…. We believe the withdrawal of funding will not only prevent them from making the important changes outlined in the report, but also negatively impact support. support and happiness of people who exercise now.”
For anyone affected by the Detailed Assessment findings, a toll-free, confidential NSPCC hotline has now been set up on 0800 587 6696.