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British Gymnastics: Number of athletes taking legal action over alleged abuse doubles since February

It was confirmed in February that 17 former gymnasts including three Olympians were taking legal action against British Gymnastics over the alleged abuse; A Letter Before Action claims abuse was perpetrated by coaches and others employed by British Gymnastics

British Gymnastics (PA)

The number of gymnasts involved in A Letter Before Action to British Gymnastics over alleged systemic physical and psychological abuse has more than doubled since last month.

Seventeen gymnasts were confirmed as initial claimants when the letter was served by law firm Hausfeld in February, but the group said in a statement that their number has now grown significantly.

"Following the launch of the action last month, the number of claimants in the action has now more than doubled, with the numbers expected to increase further still over the coming months," a statement read.

"The claimants alleged that during training and competitions they were subjected to persistent abuse that has caused them to sustain serious and continuing psychological and physical damage.

"The abuse was perpetrated by coaches and others employed by British Gymnastics at various clubs across the UK, all of which were affiliated with the governing body."

British Gymnastics were given until Thursday to provide a response, but requested an extension until December 19.

Hausfeld has instead granted an extension until June 19.

The statement said: "Should there be no commitment by British Gymnastics to engage directly with the gymnasts by this date, the claimants are resolved to progress their allegations against British Gymnastics through the courts."

A spokesperson for the group legal action said: "We're disappointed but not surprised that British Gymnastics have failed to meet the reasonable deadline we set.

"As such they have missed a valuable opportunity to address the 17 cases of harm put to them and to commit to working with gymnasts and former gymnasts to reforming the sport through an alternative dispute resolution.

"British Gymnastics are presiding over a broken system and their attempts to 'long grass' our claims are indicative of that fact. Every day that they delay, former gymnasts are denied the justice they so richly deserve - and current gymnasts are at risk of similar serious harms."

"Since we issued our Letter Before Action a further 20 gymnasts have come forward, representing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of gymnasts who allege they have been harmed over a 40-year period.

"We now look forward to hearing from British Gymnastics by no later than June 19, 2021.

"We're very clear in our determination that if British Gymnastics do not put their full organisational weight behind addressing our case, then we will take the opportunity for British Gymnastics to be part of reforming the sport we love out of their hands and into the courts."

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