An independent review has concluded that British Gymnastics failed to provide a safe environment for gymnasts and allowed for a culture of physical and emotional abuse.
Following accusations of mistreatment by a significant number of young British gymnasts, parents and guardians, Anne Whyte was appointed by UK Sport and Sport England in the summer of 2020 to review allegations that British Gymnastics failed to address complaints for decades.
In a 300-plus page review released Thursday, Whyte concluded that British Gymnastics should have been aware of the “bullying, harassment and excessive control” that occurred between 2008 and 2020, the years the review investigated.
The review centered around allegations of abuse of gymnasts by coaches who, according to the report, weight-shamed, forced athletes to train while injured and used belittling language.
The review noted 30-some incidences of sexual abuse allegations but said those incidents did not appear to be “systemic in the sport in the way that the issues of physical and emotional abuse” were within British Gymnastics.
“I am grateful to those individuals who showed strength and courage in coming forward to share difficult experiences with me,” Whyte said in a statement.
“The conclusions I have reached reflect the fact that between 2008 and 2020 there was a failure to put the welfare of participants at the centre of gymnastics, particularly elite gymnastics, and a culture that meant the gymnastics community felt unable to raise their concerns.”
In response to the review, chief executive of British Gymnastics Sarah Powell admitted Thursday the organization failed the sport of gymnastics and apologized on behalf of British Gymnastics.
“I wish to accept all of the recommendations and the key findings and we will work hard to ensure that these are acted upon quickly and robustly,” stated Powell.
“But most importantly, I want to wholeheartedly apologize on behalf of the leadership and the board for those gymnasts who have suffered because we have not met the standards that are expected for our sport.”
Whyte says they received over 400 submissions and interviewed 190 people after her call for evidence in August 2020.
UK Sport and Sport England said it accepted and endorses the review’s recommendations. Despite the conclusions revealed Thursday, the organization said it will continue to support British Gymnastics.
“At this time, our intention is to continue to fund British Gymnastics, as we believe that withdrawing funding would not only prevent them from implementing the vital changes outlined in the report but also negatively impact on the support to and wellbeing of gymnasts now,” UK Sport and Sport England statement reads.
“However, we are clear that continued funding for British Gymnastics will depend on its new leadership team making significant changes to the sport, to the timelines set out in the report’s recommendations.”
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