British Gymnastics launches independent review into abuse allegations
The British Athletes Commission, which represents 1200 athletes across 40 sports, emphasise need for "comprehensive, fair, and truly independent process"
Last Updated: 09/07/20 12:04pm
British Gymnastics has announced the launch of an independent review into allegations of abuse in the sport.
The review will be conducted by Jane Mulcahy QC, who has worked at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and sits on the England and Wales Cricket Board Appeals Panel in child protection cases.
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British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen said: "The behaviours we have heard about in recent days are completely contrary to our standards of safe coaching and have no place in our sport.
"The British Gymnastics Integrity Unit is set up to investigate all allegations when reported or identified by our national network of club and regional welfare officers.
"However, it is clear that gymnasts did not feel they could raise their concerns to British Gymnastics and it is vital that an independent review helps us better understand why so we can remove any barriers as quickly as possible.
"There is nothing more important for British Gymnastics than the welfare of our gymnasts at every level of our sport and we will continually strive to create a culture where people feel they can raise any concerns that they may have."
A number of former athletes, including Commonwealth Games gold medallist Lisa Mason, have publicly accused coaches of bullying and mistreating athletes.
One former elite artistic gymnast who retired after a decade in the sport told Sky News she was "beaten into submission" by a coach.
Meanwhile, a former welfare officer told Sky News a "culture of fear" existed within the organisation where concerned coaches and parents were too scared to voice their concerns.
The British Athletes Commission, which represents 1200 athletes across 40 sports, said: "The BAC acknowledges the announcement that an independent review has been commissioned by British Gymnastics into the allegations of mistreatment of athletes.
"We have since written to British Gymnastics and UK Sport to reiterate the need for a comprehensive, fair, and truly independent process.
"Athletes must trust the integrity of the process and feel confident that they can provide further evidence without fear of retribution. To provide athletes with the necessary reassurance we have requested that we provide input into any terms of reference as a matter of urgency.
"In the meantime, the BAC has written to all of its membership within British Gymnastics and will continue to provide independent, confidential support and advice to those who have contacted us as a result. We would encourage other athletes to reach out to the BAC if they have any concerns around this matter."
"Athletes must trust the integrity of the process and feel confident that they can provide further evidence without fear of retribution"
British Athletes Commission
UK Sport described allegations of abuse in British Gymnastics as "shocking and upsetting" and vowed to work hard to establish the facts before deciding on an "appropriate response".
The funding body, which has poured £16,457,953 into the sport during the current Olympic cycle, added its voice to the British Athletes Commission which earlier this week said it was "deeply troubled" by the claims.
Gymnasts have been prompted into speaking out after a Netflix documentary, Athlete A, fully exposed the scale of abuse in USA gymnastics which allowed convicted paedophile and former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar to continue offending.
Earlier on Tuesday, British Gymnastics admitted it was wrong for not telling the parents of a child about allegations she was being physically and emotionally abused by her coach.
In 2012, witnesses told British Gymnastics that Catherine Lyons was allegedly hit by her coach hard enough to leave a hand print on her thigh which was spotted by another parent at the end of a training session.
Lyons, a former British and European champion gymnast, was 12 at the time of the alleged incident.
But the allegations were not reported to Lyons' parents and the pair did not become aware of them until years later.