Exclusive: Olympic gymnast Ellie Downie’s weight-shaming complaint ‘not upheld’

Ellie Downie Credit: PA

A complaint by Team GB’s Ellie Downie about weight-shaming, she says she experienced as a teenage gymnast, has not been upheld.

A nutritionist, employed by the English Institute of Sport (EIS), had been suspended while the allegations were looked into but that suspension has now been lifted.

The investigation was prompted by a social media post by Downie, a World, and European medallist, earlier this summer. 

In the post, she said: “From 14 years old I’ve been told to diet consistently. At one time at this age, again after being told I was too heavy, I was told by a nutritionist to provide food diaries of everything that entered my mouth and send daily pictures of me in my underwear to ensure I wasn’t lying.”

Ellie Downie Credit: PA

She carried on and said: “There are countless examples of this behaviour I can reference, but I vividly recall being told as a young teenager at a national camp to lose 6kg in two weeks or ‘there’d be consequences’.”

In a statement to ITV News confirming that the complaint had not been proven, EIS said: “All relevant individuals were interviewed by a senior EIS member of staff and the subsequent report was submitted for a full review to an external independent investigator, who has experience of investigations within high performance sport. 

"The conclusion from this process is that the complaint was not upheld.”

The statement did not outline the specific reasons why that conclusion was reached but went on: “We are grateful to the athlete involved for raising their concerns with us, which will help us to continue to assess our service for any improvements. 

"The EIS will now work with the sport and the employee to establish the most appropriate next steps so that everyone involved can move forward."

There are already concerns in the wider gymnastics community that outcomes like this will discourage others from coming forward with allegations of wrongdoing or abusive behaviour within the sport.

Several coaches have been suspended since ITV News first started reporting mistreatment within British Gymnastics at the beginning of July but this is the first action taken against any of the sport’s wider support network. 

GB Women’s Head Coach Amanda Reddin temporarily stepped aside last month to allow for an investigation after several allegations were also made against her. 

A UK Sport and Sport England-led independent inquiry has been launched in the wake of the scandal.

Reacting to the complaint not being upheld and the nutritionist's suspension lifted, Ms Downie tweeted: "I’ve not done this to satisfy myself. This is to stop it happening to all those young gymnasts out there."She continued: "Yes sometimes you may need nutritional help to improve your performance, but that’s not what this was! And it CAN'T continue. But honestly this is why we haven’t spoken before."