Whyte Review into abuse in British Gymnastics expected to lay bare extent of mistreatment

Seventeen former gymnasts are bringing legal action against British Gymnastics.
ITV News led the way in exposing a catalogue of allegations of physical and mental abuse and bullying across British Gymnastics. Credit: PA

A review, commissioned after an ITV News investigation into abuse in British Gymnastics, is expected to lay bare the extent of the mistreatment at both elite and amateur levels that has tarnished a golden era of success.

The Whyte Review, jointly commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England in 2020 and chaired by Anne Whyte QC, is being published on Thursday and is expected to be critical of British Gymnastics and highlight safeguarding failings at the top of the sport.

ITV News led the way in exposing a catalogue of allegations of physical and mental abuse and bullying across British Gymnastics.

The review was commissioned following allegations first reported by ITV News in 2020.

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Gymnasts for Change, the campaigning group made up of athletes and former athletes, said it was imperative the review seized the chance to make sure such widespread incidents of abuse could never be repeated.

The British Athlete Commission, which established a helpline in association with the NSPCC to encourage affected athletes to come forward, also said it hoped the review would address the concerns of more than 200 athletes and families it has supported through the process.

“On the eve of the publication of the Whyte Review, we share with them the hope that the review provides a comprehensive and considered response to the allegations made against British Gymnastics, and is reflective of the nature of the concerns that our team has heard over the last two years,” the BAC said on Wednesday.

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“Above all, we hope to see significant recommendations made, which will not only hold British Gymnastics to account, but also that the wider sporting system can learn from, in order to continue a genuine and irreversible culture shift within British sport.”

The growing allegations led to the respective departures from the governing body of chief executive Jane Allen in October 2020, and women’s head coach Amanda Reddin – a key architect of Britain’s seven-medal haul at the 2016 Rio Olympics – in May.

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Reddin, who left the organisation by “mutual agreement”, was facing an independent investigation into her training methods. She was cleared of some charges and continued to strenuously deny any wrongdoing.

An interim independent review of British Gymnastics in March 2021 found dozens of cases so serious, they alerted authorities because of suspected criminal conduct or children being at risk.

Almost 400 individuals have contributed to the review which has heard "re-occurring issues" of bullying, extreme weight management and the use of excessive physical force among other complaints. 

Whyte said the allegations painted a “worrying picture” of the elite level of the sport, indicating that over 90 clubs and 100 coaches had been identified in submissions and that 39 referrals had been made to local authorities as a result.

Over the course of two years, the Whyte team has investigated submissions from more than 90 clubs and 100 coaches.

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.