British Gymnastics braced for 'upsetting and difficult' Whyte Review into abuse

A 300-page report into widespread physical and emotional abuse in gymnastics will demand the sport makes the changes within a relatively short timeframe Credit: AP

British Gymnastics will today be ordered to repair its abusive culture and given a strict timetable to enforce a series of recommendations.

A 300-page report into widespread physical and emotional abuse in gymnastics - the culmination of a two-year investigation by Anne Whyte QC - will demand the sport makes the changes within a relatively short timeframe.

In what has been described as an “upsetting and difficult” read by those who’ve seen it, Whyte will conclude that in a number of cases gymnasts’ welfare has not been at the heart of the sport.

Whyte cites examples of the differing kinds of abuse suffered by mainly young girls at the hands of their coaches. These include but are not limited to, physical abuse, weight-shaming, emotional abuse and being forced to train on serious injuries.

The scale of the scandal is staggering and in the most extreme cases the effects of the mistreatment suffered by young athletes can be permanent

Many hundreds of gymnasts and others from the wider gymnastics community have given testimony concerning 90 clubs and more than 100 coaches, from grassroots to elite level.

'Beaten and starved': Stars tell Sports Editor Steve Scott about alleged abuse at the heart of British Gymnastics

Whyte has also investigated British Gymnastics' safeguarding structure, its complaints process and whether those who had reason to complain felt confident in doing so. She concludes, that many did not.

While individual coaches are not named and shamed, the former CEO Jane Allen and her senior leadership team are expected to come in for severe criticism.

Allen, who ran the sport for a decade, retired last year in the wake of the abuse scandal and is now thought to be living in her native Australia.

Clearly unsettled, she announced this review would take place on the day after ITV News first exposed the level of abuse across the sport she ran.

We interviewed many dozens of gymnasts, from Olympians to those at recreational level who claimed they’d been severely mistreated by their coaches.

Whyte is expected to recommend a far more rigorous system for training coaches, so they can no longer rely on the defence that they are simply running hard and competitive sessions.

Over the past two years ITV News has spoken to many gymnasts who claim their coaches were only interested in reflected glory and tournament success, and not the welfare of their gymnasts. 

On Tuesday, British Gymnastics admitted it had made mistakes: “We want to put right the things that went wrong and want to move forward positively.”

As well as making a commitment to implement the recommendations in the review, British Gymnastics also pointed to the “significant changes” it had already put in place, including increasing the size of the integrity team, new complaint handling systems and making changes at board and leadership levels.