British Gymnastics complaints process 'not fit for purpose' and must be halted, campaign group says

Gymnasts for Change (G4C) is calling for an immediate halt to the British Gymnastics complaints process. Credit: PA

Leading campaign group Gymnasts for Change (G4C) is calling for an immediate halt to the British Gymnastics complaints process, describing it as "not fit for purpose".

The claim comes after not a single case that was heard as a result of the Whyte review into the sport’s abusive culture has led to a coach being banned or expelled. The review was published in June last year.

The group said the Independent Complaints Commission (ICP) is not fully engaging with whistleblowers, and, because of its failings, abusive coaches continue to work.

Only last month, in an exclusive interview with ITV News, Anne Whyte KC, who led the investigation into gymnastics’ abuse scandal, suggested that the process was failing victims.

"If there are so few resolved cases or sanctions resulting from a dedicated complaints process since 2020, future complainants [or] the [gymnastics] community will have decreased or little confidence that British Gymnastics is capable of managing complaints of effectively identifying and remedying breaches of professional standards," she said.

Among the shortcomings, G4C claims that hearings are "stacked heavily in favour of the coaches" partly because witnesses are not consulted or given the opportunity to represent themselves at their own cases.

G4C says many gymnasts involved in hearings scheduled for the New Year are now contemplating withdrawing from the process. 

The group says in one case, young gymnasts who’d alleged weight mismanagement leading to eating disorders were called “impressionable” and at another, hearing a complainant was subject to a "full on character assassination".

Anne Whyte KC spoke to ITV News last month. Credit: ITV News

In neither case were they able to challenge these allegations. 

G4C has written an open letter to the board at British Gymnastics and, among others, UK Sport and Sport England, which fund the sport.

It is asking for urgent roundtable discussions with all stakeholders to resolve the current crisis of confidence in the complaints process.

G4C said: "The result of the ICP’s failings is that strong, robust cases against abusive coaches are collapsing; coaches that British Gymnastics want and seek to expel from membership are still coaching; there is a complete lack of confidence and trust in the system by those it is meant to serve and represent; and numerous gymnasts are being re-traumatised by a process that was set up primarily to address the trauma they suffered in the first place."

The group added: "All the concerns we’ve had highlighted to us throughout the year by members involved in the ICP process leads us to believe we are at a precarious tipping point."

"With 2024 looming, G4C want to make NOW the time to stay the current procedures, analyse the cases gone before and open discussions with all its parties, in order to facilitate a major overhaul or reset of the ICP to better serve the gymnastics community."

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