United Kingdom

British Gymnastics to name banned coaches as part of abuse investigation

British Gymnastics will name coaches who have been banned as part of a response to an investigation exposing the sport’s abusive culture.

A 40-point action plan is intended by the governing body to create “safe, positive and fair experiences” for gymnasts.

It follows more than 400 complaints to the Whyte Review that was published in June and found young gymnasts in Britain had been left humiliated, shamed and permanently psychologically or physically injured.

A challenge for gymnastics officials is determining the proportionality of sanctions based on the scale of misconduct – from sexual and physical abuse to bullying and malnutrition.

While British Gymnastics will publish lists of banned coaches online, their names will be removed once a punishment has been served.

It leaves open the possibility of coaches returning to the sport with athletes and any guardians never knowing about past misconduct.

British Gymnastics CEO Sarah Powell told Sky News: “I think we would have to be really convinced about why somebody had been banned, and then will come back into the sport. I don’t know until I look at the determinations of those outcomes.”

Coaches who are suspended pending the outcome of an investigation will also not be named – opening up the possibility of them working in other countries in another sport.

The aspiration to improve welfare, safeguarding and complaints is for “zero tolerance of abuse – whether that be emotional, physical or sexual” and more specialist staff to handle complaints.

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‘Epidemic of abuse’ in British Gymnastics

On the education priorities, the “Reform ’25” action plan highlights the need for “a cultural understanding that creating a fear of coaches has no place in gymnastics.”

There are concerns that British sport has developed a medals over morals culture, but the action plan states there should be a “recognition that striving for and achieving success is not the same thing as wellbeing.”

Read more:
British Gymnastics admits ‘error’ for not telling girl’s parents about abuse claims
NSPCC says abuse claims are ‘extremely disturbing’

British Gymnastics wants the reforms implemented by 2025 – a year after the next Olympics in Paris – but with regular updates on progress in improving the environment that is focused on high-performance, while eradicating risks.

Ms Powell said: “The key for us is to make sure that those who’ve been affected, we acknowledge the failings of the past, and we make sure we set out a new direction for the future.

“The reforms that we’re putting in place today will ensure that this sport can be a safe, positive experience for all involved.”

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