Video report by ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott
Jane Allen, the now outgoing CEO of British Gymnastics, unveiled her retirement plans on Wednesday without a hint of irony.
She’ll ride off into the sunset with a backslap from her board of directors and barely a glance at the many gymnasts whose experience in her sport have become a life sentence.
She claims to never look at social media; I’d advise her not to break that habit now.
In her statement released by British Gymnastics, Allen admits “the last few months have been extremely difficult,” and then adds “but I will look back on my time in British Gymnastics with great pride".
Where to start.
If the last few months have been difficult for her, she’s one of the lucky ones.
Many of her gymnasts have had to cope with the consequences of the sport Allen runs for an awful lot longer.
Olympic gymnast Francesca Fox reacts to Ms Allen's announcement, she say she should 'take responsibility'
Brave gymnasts like Catherine Lyons, Lisa Mason, Jem Pinches, Francesca Fox, Jay Thompson, Amanda Parker, Lamara Robb, Amy Tinkler, Charlie Arbuthnot, Hannah Whelan, Aasha Kimpton; I could list many dozens more who have spoken to ITV News both on camera and privately about their terrible experiences.
But still Allen reflects with “great pride”.
The fact that she even uses that phrase indicates an astonishing delusion about the current reality facing gymnastics and her own legacy.
Most importantly it is an insult to the troubled former and current athletes who have bared their souls.
That and the fact that Allen has still not offered a public apology to the generation of broken women who are dealing with the consequences of abuse in the name of a sport they entered as wide-eyed innocent young girls.
Olympian Jem Pinches and one of the founders of the campaign group #gymnastalliance spoke for many on ITV News on Wednesday night, after reading the British Gymnastics statement.
Ms Pinches said: “I think it’s a disgrace that they’re still thanking Jane Allen for her service and the fact that she’s saying she has pride in her career and doesn’t want these events to overshadow it.
"The fact is she should be ashamed and instead she’s continuing to tell about the growth she’s achieved instead of caring about the human lives that she’s failed.”
The gymnasts want to know why, despite presiding over one of the biggest welfare scandals in British sporting history, Jane Allen is allowed to walk away with dignity and a healthy pension, presumably courtesy of British Gymnastics members’ fees.
A question that no doubt will be asked of those on the board if ever they have the courtesy to address this crisis in public.
ITV News has consistently asked Allen to confront the widespread allegations on camera from the day we began reporting them in July.
That’s what good leadership does; front up.
Some will find it insightful that she waited until now to put her head above the parapet, not to say sorry, not to quit, not to explain anything but to give us a timetable of when she’ll be handing over responsibility for the whole sorry mess.
Despite what she says publicly, it is very likely there was pressure from outside the cosiness of her organisation or maybe even from within, for her to announce a leaving date.
ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott has more on the fallout of the announcement:
My understanding is that until relatively recently she was committed to sitting across the review and leading gymnastics through to the other side because she believed she had the skillset to do that.
You also have to ask what CEO leaves their sport voluntarily six months before an Olympic Games?
But the fact is she is off and by the time the review is published, when blame will be apportioned and failings will be highlighted, she’ll be long gone.
Jane Allen will most likely be on the other side of the world in her native Australia finding it even easier to avoid scrutiny than she does right now.