Exclusive: Cartoon Network pulls out of British Gymnastics partnership after allegations revealed by ITV News

​ITV News can exclusively reveal that Cartoon Network has become the first financial partner to publicly suspend its partnership with British Gymnastics after allegations of abusive coaches were exposed. ITV News has reported shocking examples of bullying, and abuse - physical and emotional - at the heart of British gymnastics in recent days, which prompted the body to pledge a review. The alarming accusations stem from the mistreatment of young children, with one eight-year-old gymnast describing how she was tied to bars and bullied by her coaches at the age of just seven.

As a result, Cartoon Network, whose programme The Powerpuff Girls did product placement at British Gymnastics events, have ended their affiliation with British Gymnastics ​with immediate effect.

In 2018, British Gymnastics signed a major deal with Cartoon Network, allowing it to utilise the Powerpuff Girls to promote its POW! Academy initiative, which aims to engage children aged five to 11-years-old in the sport, for example, gymnasts would get a Powerpuff Girls badge as an award for gymnastic achievements .

“In light of the recent allegations and while investigations are ongoing, we have suspended our licensing agreement with British Gymnastics,” the network said in a statement ​about the decision taken on Thursday.


At just seven-years-old, Paige Southern-Reason says she was tied to a horizontal bar and left hanging there - her pain and cries ignored.

The young gymnast said she was pushed "harder and harder" despite being in tears during training.

The alleged abuse took place at the Heathrow Gymnastics Club where, Paige says, coaches would shout in her face in front of a gym full of people.

On its website Heathrow Gymnastics claims to be accredited by the British Olympic Association (BOA).

It is not and the BOA has asked the club to remove the misinformation.

A Welsh Champion, Paige fears speaking out will damage her future career.


Former elite British gymnast, Margaux Derakhshan, is one of many athletes ITV News has spoken to who say they too have experienced - or been witness to - abuse at the Heathrow Club.

Now 19, she trained at the Heathrow Gymnastics Club for five years from when she was five-years-old.

Ms Derakhshan told ITV News "the most common" abuse she witnessed was "girls being insulted - being called fat, ugly, stupid."

"One was called an idiot," she said.

"Other things, more serious was physical abuse.

"One girl was pushed to the floor and dragged by her hair out of the gym just because she couldn’t get the choreography right."

Weight as a means of bullying is something athletes have told ITV News exists in the sport as a whole - beyond the one club.

Also on Thursday, UK Sport and Sport England issued a joint statement questioning how reliable and independent British Gymnastics’ review will be. "Given the number of serious and deeply concerning allegations that are being made, and which must be dealt with, we are working at pace alongside British Gymnastics to determine the facts,” they said. “British Gymnastics has confirmed that it will commission an independent review into the allegations. We are now taking time to look at the terms of reference of this review to ensure it has sufficient scope to fully address these issues. “What is vital is that athletes and participants feel safe in coming forward with any issues they have faced and that they can feel confident these will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately."