The Whyte Review has released a report on British Gymnastics (BG) which revealed that many young people have been faced with abusive coaches.
Focusing on the period of 2008-2020, more than 400 people have put forward evidence to Anne Whyte QC, who led the investigation.
Whyte noted that over 40% of these victims described ‘physically abusive behaviour’ during training under the sports governing body.
In response, Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of British Gymnastics, said: “Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences with the Review. It has been difficult and upsetting to read what you have been through.
“Your bravery in speaking up has played a key role in helping to move our sport forward and change it for the better. British Gymnastics accepts all of the recommendations and key findings.”
Furthermore, it was also stated that coaches would use physical punishment on athletes if they were late for training, put on weight or were injured. Moreso, the report also found that some gymnasts had been ‘strapped to bars’ for long periods at a time.
One gymnast reported being sworn at regularly from age nine, whilst another said that the coach would ‘shout and scream in their faces so close that they could smell their breath and feel their spit landing on their face’.
Gymnasts were also forced to wear a dunce’s cap if they could not complete a particular action.
Powell continued: “We will not shy away from doing what is needed. I want to wholeheartedly apologise to the gymnasts who have suffered as a result of us not working to the standards we set ourselves. We are sorry.”
The group is now ‘fully considering’ the details of the review and has put in place a roadmap in a bid to address the recommendations in full.
“There are hundreds of thousands of young people enjoying gymnastics week in and week out, and I know there are great coaches doing wonderful things,” the Executive added. “We now must ensure that is the experience of everyone, everywhere.
“Let me be clear; there is no place for abuse of any kind in our sport and coaching standards of the past will not be those of the future. We will build a new culture and ensure the gymnasts voice is at the heart of all we do. We will change gymnastics for the better.”
Moreover, Whyte suggested a culture of fear where gymnasts were too afraid to question or report coaches, concluding: “It was easily maintained because some coaches continued to treat adolescents and young adults, especially females, like children and failed to involve them (and their parents) sufficiently in decision making and in discussion.”