Lack of progress after report of abuse in gymnastics

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One year on from the independent investigation into physical and emotional abuse in gymnastics, British Gymnastics has been labelled as ‘inept and dysfunctional’; just one of the 38 civil cases brought against the organisation has been settled, with a list of banned coaches yet to be seen.

The Whyte Review was co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England in 2020 following allegations of abuse and mistreatment within gymnastics in Britain. Published on 16 June 2022, it found gymnast athletes were made to train on injuries, punished for needing the toilet, sat on by coaches, shouted and sworn at and had their bags searched for food. In October 2022, the governing body issued a 40-point action plan called Reform ’25 to make changes in the sport over a two-year period.

However, as of May 2023, it had completed only 11 of the actions, while in the same month it said it had doubled its spending on welfare and safe sport to about £1m a year

Where are we now?

As part of Reform ’25, it pledged to name banned coaches and publish a list of names of those banned on their website. This is yet to happen and no coach has been banned since the Whyte Review.

In June 2022, former elite acrobatic gymnast Eloise Jotischky became the first to win a civil case against British Gymnastics for the abuse she experienced.

Eloise’s story

Out of 38 civil claims brought against British Gymnastics only one has  been resolved.

Eloise Jotischky a former elite acrobatic gymnast and the only survivor whose case has been resolved told BBC Sport: “A year has passed and there is still no sign of coaches, who have allegations against them, being removed from the sport.

“British Gymnastics seems to be alone in allowing accused coaches to work while other sporting bodies implement immediate suspensions and subsequent bans.

“I fear that British Gymnastics is failing to do so as they are worried about potential litigation from coaches. This is not good enough. Until they are willing to take this step, they are not putting children and victims of abuse at the forefront of their organisation.”

True reform seems a distant hope at present; too little has been done to engage survivors, assure whistleblowers and parents that their children are not currently being harmed by participation in the sport.

In response to the lack of progress, British Gymnastics said it “shares the frustration” over the time being taken to resolve complaints, but believes it is making “substantial progress” and “remains on track”.

It said that “significant reform does not happen overnight”, accepting that “we have a lot more work to do and not all change can come quickly enough for everyone”.

It said the “large caseload” of long-standing cases was an “area of great concern”, but with the majority of those going through an independent complaints process it said “timelines therefore are not in our control”.

If you or someone you know has been affected by either physical or emotional abuse, you may be entitled to compensation to help you get the support you need. Our expert team has supported hundreds of victims of abuse and will be able to guide you through your next steps. To have a free confidential discussion give us a call on 0800 044 8488 or fill in our contact form here Contact Us – Enable Law so we can give you a call back at a time that suits you.

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