Banned gymnastics coaches list is ‘serious betrayal’, with abusive coaches ‘conspicuously absent’

The list forms one key part of the governing body’s promise to reform the sport following the abuse scandal that engulfed it three years ago. Credit: AP

They are not household names, but many are locked deep in the minds of those they abused. 

Today, as British Gymnastics publishes its long-awaited ‘banned and expelled’ list, the gymnasts who carry the scars inflicted by those now named will feel partly vindicated. 

The list, published online, comprises 63 names, more than half of whom have criminal convictions.

Only 28, in a catalogue dating back to the early nineties, are there for safeguarding reasons. 

This has caused anger and concern in parts of the gymnastics community, who say only coaches guilty of the most serious offences have been identified, and others who still pose a risk have not been named. 

There are coaches, known to many in the gymnastics’ world, who have been expelled but are not named.

When asked on Wednesday to explain why, British Gymnastics said: "Some names did object to this publication, and we will be assessing these based on data protection legislation, with advice from the governance team and our legal advisers.

"Until a final decision is made on these individual cases, the names will not be published."

The list forms one key part of the governing body’s promise to reform the sport following the abuse scandal that engulfed it three years ago.

It was a scandal that prompted an urgent inquiry and the publication of the Whyte Review, which investigated gymnastics’ toxic culture and the systemic issues preventing it from being a safe sport. 

Anne Whyte KC’s review identified a "coach led culture of fear" and found shocking levels of physical and emotional abuse to be widespread. 

Whyte heard complaints relating to more than 100 coaches at 90 clubs.

She considered 39 cases to be so serious they were passed to local authorities to deal with. 

Anne Whyte KC’s review heard complaints relating to more than 100 coaches at 90 clubs. Credit: PA

Despite the volume of complaints since the scandal erupted in 2020, the list identifies only three coaches who have been banned permanently for safeguarding reasons .

British Gymnastics responded to what was a damning and depressing reality check with its Reform ‘25 document; a 41-point action plan to transform the sport.

This list is one of the 41 reform promises.  

However, the most high-profile of the sport’s pressure groups, Gymnasts for Change (G4C), reacted furiously today.

A statement written shortly after the list was uploaded online said: "The publication of BG’s expulsions list is an indictment against a failed organisation struggling to tackle the immense task of reforming its coaching cultures.

"Today’s failed act by BG represents a serious institutional betrayal for many complainants and their families across the UK who have fought hard over the past three years to report abuse in gymnastics.

"Until there is greater transparency in the complaints, investigations and appeals processes, with trauma informed approaches to hearings and better protections for whistle-blowers, the list will remain an empty promise containing the names of those coaches whose abusive behaviours were deemed egregious enough to meet the very highest bar of a criminal conviction, usually reserved for sexual abuse cases."

Another respected group, the Gymnast Parent Alliance, while welcoming the concept of the list, were equally disappointed by its limitations:

"It has come to our attention that several coaches, who have been subjected to suspensions or expulsions due to emotional and physical abuse, are conspicuously absent from this list.

"We have consistently advocated for British Gymnastics to take a more transparent approach by publicly identifying coaches responsible for harming children through emotionally and physically abusive coaching techniques.

"This transparency would empower parents to make well-informed decisions about where their children can safely and positively engage in gymnastics."

British Gymnastics admits this list, is just a starting point.

Coaches not named include those who’ve been sanctioned, are suspended and are currently undergoing retraining or supervision. 

Many believe gymnasts and their parents deserve to know the identity of these coaches, so they can make an informed decision whether to work with them once they’ve been rehabilitated. 

Reflecting on the publication of the list, Geraldine Costello, British Gymnastics’ new Director of Welfare and Safe Sport, said: "Nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of all those involved in our sport.

"While anyone banned or expelled had already been removed from the environment, we believe publishing this list is in the best interest of the sport and the wider public."

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