In the world of gymnastics, British Gymnastics has recently found itself under scrutiny as a campaign group, Gymnasts For Change, accuses the governing body of a “serious institutional betrayal.” This accusation stems from the release of a list containing the names of 62 banned coaches and members, which is part of British Gymnastics’ ‘Reform 25’ plan.
These individuals on the list have either faced a time-limited ban or have been expelled from British Gymnastics due to various reasons, including criminal convictions or misconduct related to safeguarding and disciplinary matters. However, Gymnasts For Change contends that more coaches should have made the list, asserting that they too meet the criteria for inclusion.
In a strongly worded statement, Gymnasts For Change declared, “The publication of British Gymnastics’ expulsions list is an indictment against a failed organization struggling to tackle the immense task of reforming its coaching cultures.” They believe that British Gymnastics’ actions represent a betrayal to those who have reported abuse within the sport over the past few years.
They further criticized the list, referring to it as an “empty promise,” and argued that it allows certain coaches who hold sanctions and meet the criteria to go unnamed and continue their involvement in the sport, perpetuating what has been described as a “coach-led culture of fear” in the Whyte Review.
This list, which includes individuals banned dating back to 1994, even includes two Olympians, Brian Phelps and Stan Wild. However, it’s worth noting that it contains only three people sanctioned since June 2022, when the Whyte Review was published. Those under temporary suspension due to ongoing investigations have not been included.
British Gymnastics has faced criticism in the past, with the Whyte Review describing the organization’s system as “inept and dysfunctional.” The review also uncovered “systemic” issues of physical and emotional abuse within the sport.
Geraldine Costello, British Gymnastics’ director of welfare and safe sport, expressed the organization’s commitment to the safety and well-being of all involved in gymnastics. She stated that publishing this list is part of a broader program of reform aimed at delivering a positive gymnastics experience.
However, Gymnasts For Change’s statement remains unaddressed by British Gymnastics, leaving questions about the organization’s ability to navigate the path to genuine reform.
The Gymnast Parent Alliance, too, expressed profound disappointment with the list, highlighting that several coaches were conspicuously absent.
The Whyte Review, a comprehensive 306-page report, shed light on harrowing incidents within the sport, including athletes being forced to train despite broken bones, punitive measures for needing to use the restroom, and coaches physically imposing themselves on gymnasts. It also exposed issues related to excessive weight management, leading to eating disorders, which gymnasts referred to as the “tyranny of the scales.”
The report maintained the anonymity of athlete submissions and did not name any coaches specifically.
For those affected by the issues raised in this article, the BBC Action Line offers information and support.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about British Gymnastics Banned Coaches
What is the ‘Reform 25’ plan mentioned in the article?
The ‘Reform 25’ plan is a program initiated by British Gymnastics. It involves various reforms and changes aimed at improving the governance and safety within the sport of gymnastics. As part of this plan, British Gymnastics published a list of 62 banned coaches and members, which has become a subject of controversy and criticism.
Why has British Gymnastics been accused of a “serious institutional betrayal”?
British Gymnastics faces this accusation from Gymnasts For Change, a campaign group, due to their handling of the list of banned coaches and members. Gymnasts For Change believes that more individuals who meet the criteria for inclusion should have been named on this list. They argue that the organization’s actions represent a betrayal to those who have reported abuse within gymnastics over the past few years.
What were some of the issues raised in the Whyte Review?
The Whyte Review, a comprehensive report, uncovered a range of troubling issues within gymnastics. These included athletes being made to train despite having broken bones, punitive measures for basic needs like using the restroom, and coaches engaging in physical misconduct with gymnasts. It also shed light on problems related to excessive weight management, leading to eating disorders among athletes, which was referred to as the “tyranny of the scales.”
How has British Gymnastics responded to the publication of the list?
Geraldine Costello, British Gymnastics’ director of welfare and safe sport, stated that the safety and well-being of everyone involved in gymnastics are of utmost importance to the organization. She explained that publishing the list is one part of a broader program of reform aimed at delivering a more positive experience in gymnastics. However, the organization did not directly address Gymnasts For Change’s criticism in their response.
What is the significance of the Gymnast Parent Alliance’s reaction to the list?
The Gymnast Parent Alliance expressed profound disappointment with the list, noting that several coaches they believe should have been included were conspicuously absent. This reaction underscores the concern and dissatisfaction within the gymnastics community regarding the transparency and effectiveness of the reforms being undertaken by British Gymnastics.