History will not judge British Gymnastics well after years of ‘systematic’ abuse

British Gymnastics should never be allowed to forget Thursday, June 16.

It was the day that the Whyte Review, co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England to independently review allegations of abuse and mistreatment within gymnastics in Britain, was released publicly. Its results should deeply shock anyone that reads it.

There is so much to unpick from the review that it is hard to know where to start. It was revealed that gymnast wellbeing and welfare “has not been at the centre of British Gymnastics’ culture”. It added that British Gymnastics had “not only failed to prevent or limit such behaviours but had condoned some of them in the pursuit of national and international competitive success”.

The former chief executive of British Gymnastics, Jane Allen, who retired in December 2020, was criticised in the report for a “lack of leadership” and an “organisational failure to appreciate the central importance of athlete welfare”. The review outlined multiple accounts of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse against gymnasts. I am genuinely lost for words writing this.

The role of Jane Allen within all of this is utterly unforgivable and there should be serious question marks raised about the backing given to her by the CEO of UK Sport, Sally Munday, back in July 2020.

At the time, I wrote in this column, that I found Munday’s comments very troubling. During that time there were alarming allegations being raised by gymnasts and yet seemingly a reluctance by those in power to properly investigate them.

The damning Whyte Review has overshadowed Team GB’s success in gymnastics at the Olympics

In August 2020, Olympic Bronze Medallist, Nile Wilson, said there was a “culture of abuse” in British gymnastics and athletes were “treated like pieces of meat”; and that he was heartbroken by the outcome of a complaint he lodged with his home base of Leeds Gymnastics Club earlier this year that he felt was “brushed under the carpet”.

In September 2020, another Olympic Bronze Medallist, Amy Tinkler, said: “It’s been 271 days since I submitted my complaint and 25-days since I was abruptly told by email that my complaint into Amanda Reddin and British Gymnastics was closed. I’ve emailed British Gymnastics three times since asking for an explanation or summary outcome. I’ve received nothing.”

The truth is that behind the scenes there were and are people trying to belittle the claims of gymnasts like Wilson and Tinkler and I just hope they have read the entirety of the Whyte Review. History will not judge them well.

Every gymnast that spoke out for the Whyte Review has done an incredible service to their sport. We often talk in sport about ‘legacy’, well in this case these brave gymnasts have created a legacy that will help future gymnasts immeasurably. I hope they were all sitting at home this week understanding that.

British Gymnastics can never go back to this and UK Sport can never again miss something so appalling as this by such a wide mark. I don’t want to ever write about this sort of thing in sport again.

Small Bite

It’s sad to see Sadio Mane leaving Liverpool after six amazing years and I just want to make mention of what an outstanding player he was for the club. It’s a changing of the guard moment with the exciting arrival of Darwin Nunez but Mane will not be forgotten at Anfied.

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