The Gymnast Parent Alliance, a group for parents of British youngsters in the sport, has criticized UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday for her comments made about the independent review into the allegations of abuse in British Gymnastics. In an interview with BBC, Munday specified: All our work with over the last few years has given us confidence they want to take allegations seriously.
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The welfare group has blasted Munday, suggesting in a statement that allegations have not been taken seriously in the past and that there was a “culture of fear” in the sport. Many allege that they have reported abusive coaching practices to British Gymnastics, but found that their complaints were not properly investigated or dealt with, read the statement by Gymnast Parent Alliance.
Former Olympians Amy Tinkler, Hannah Whelan, and Dan Keatings have all reported making complaints to British Gymnastics, which have either been ignored or severely delayed. Social media is awash with parents of gymnasts similarly alleging their allegations were not taken seriously or properly investigated by British Gymnastics.
Many complainants believe that this is not a case of a few ‘bad apples’ that can be rooted out of the sport. Rather, many of these problems stem from systemic failings at a senior level within British Gymnastics and a ‘medals at any cost’ culture.
It has also called on UK Sport and Sport England to publish the terms of the inquiry into British Gymnastics and show that the review will be independent. Chief executive of British Gymnastics Jane Allen, also holds a position on UK Sport’s major events panel, a concern for the group. Former membership manager for British Gymnastics Ros Anwyl added that the culture of fear existed around Allen when she worked with the organization.
Speaking to ITV, Anwyl said: “If you dared to speak out you were very quickly put back in your box – there was a culture of fear that she fostered.”
Anwyl, who was in charge of welfare and dealing with complaints, raised the issue of one investigation into a high-profile coach, where she claims that Allen was angry at a police recommendation to suspend the coach.
She added: “Out of courtesy to the chief executive, because of his profile within the organization, I told her.
To say that she wasn’t happy would be an understatement. I felt as if I was letting down the gymnasts, that they would think what’s the point of making complaints because nobody is going to listen. That’s how I was left feeling and still feel like that – I feel that I did let them down by leaving. Anwyl also stated that she resigned from her position after the fallout from her disagreement with Allen.
The most high-profile case in British Gymnastics is that of young Olympic medalist Amy Tinkler who retired due to an abuse complaint made by her but had at the time suggested it was due to an injury. This pattern of uncovering abuse in the sport comes after the Netflix documentary Athlete A, which focused on the Larry Nassar abuse scandal and the alleged covering-up of information by USA Gymnastics.
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