UK Sport and Sport England are to co-commission a review into allegations of mistreatment in gymnastics in Great Britain after several gymnasts revealed details of abusive behaviour.
Former double world medallist Ellie Downie and her sister Becky – a two-time European champion – said abusive behaviour in the sport was “ingrained” and “completely normalised”.
Several athletes came forward to speak of a “culture of fear” within the “mentally and emotionally abusive” sport prompting British Gymnastics to announce an independent review would take place.
Allegations of abuse as reported by the BBC include athletes being made to sit in store cupboards if they were upset or refused to perform a skill in training, being hit by one coach on the legs with a wooden stick and being sat on if they were not fully on the ground while performing the splits.
Many were under pressure to maintain their weight that was so intense they developed eating disorders and are still experiencing the consequences today.
British Gymnastics’ decision to stand aside has been welcomed by UK Sport and Sport England who will now undertake a review into the allegations.
A statement from the two organisations read:
“UK Sport and Sport England welcome and support the decision of British Gymnastics to step aside from the review it announced last week and have agreed to co-commission a fully independent review into the serious concerns raised by gymnasts.
“We are working closely with key stakeholders, including the British Athletes Commission (BAC) and the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), to develop the terms of reference and the structure of the review to ensure it has credibility and the confidence of all of those who have had the courage to come forward.
“Our immediate priority is to provide support for all those affected by these allegations. We are working with the BAC as it finalises its plans to assist gymnasts and others who have been impacted to raise their concerns and take part in the review. Further and full details of the support available will be published online as soon as possible.
“We appreciate this is an anxious time for many young gymnasts and their families and we intend to move swiftly to finalise and publish the details of the review.”
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