Amy Tinkler calls for a ban on abusive coaches from gymnastics

Olympic medalist Amy Tinkler has warned British gymnasts will not be safe until authorities take action in line with Whyte Review’s damning findings of widespread abuse in her sport.

In her 306-page report, Ann White QC last week detailed how gymnasts as young as seven have been subjected to terror, intimidation and, in some cases, sexual abuse.

“I wonder how many sports scandals it will take before the current government realizes that more needs to be done to protect children who play sports,” White concludes.

Tinkler, who won bronze in floor exercise at Rio 2016, said White’s findings on weight management methods, described as “the tyranny of the weights,” resonated.

Tinkler said she was a victim of weight shame and shared an email thread in September 2020 in which a trainer and nutritionist discussed her weight.

“It’s nice to have confirmation that I and others are telling the truth,” she wrote. “Ever since I made the decision to tell British Gymnastics about my experience two and a half years ago, I have felt like an outcast, a liar. Society knows we shouldn’t treat whistleblowers this way and I hope BG will start engaging with us instead of holding us at arm’s length.

“We are not enemies, we are the ones who want to make gymnastics a safe, reliable and spectacular sport for everyone. Talk to us.”

Tinkler joined a host of athletes in expressing her concern that no coach has been held accountable for the mistreatment of hundreds of young gymnasts. Sarah Powell, chief executive of British Gymnastics, admitted that her predecessor, Jane Allen, was still receiving severance pay due to her sudden retirement at the height of the scandal in October 2020.

Women’s head coach Amanda Reddin – chief architect of Britain’s seven medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics – also left by “mutual agreement”. However, the sport has yet to punish anyone who has directly abused or injured athletes.

“I don’t see how we can move forward as a sport”

“This amount of abuse could not have happened without the rapists,” Tinkler wrote in a social media post. “It worries me why there are no reports of action or remedies against violators, whether they are coaches or support staff, they need to be removed from the sport.

“I therefore request BG, UK Sport and Sport England to urgently inform the gymnastics community if any action has been taken against the perpetrators reported in the Whyte review.

“Otherwise, how am I to know, or any gymnast or parent of a gymnast, if the same abusers will still be in the gym the next time we go there? Until we have clarity on this, I don’t see how we can move forward. forward as a sport in a safe, secure and enjoyable way.”

Former English gymnast Nicole Pavier, who has been abused at two clubs in different parts of the country, has called for a more open approach to the defense and has suggested that clubs keep a register listing any allegations made against coaches working there.

“We are potentially setting families up for a fall because they don’t have the knowledge and authority to make those decisions,” she said.

Following the release of the Whyte Review, British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell, who has been in office since October, said the organization “accepts all recommendations and key messages. We will not shy away from what is necessary.”

“I want to sincerely apologize to the gymnasts who suffered because we didn’t work to the standards we set ourselves. We are very sorry”.

She added: “Let me be clear: there is no place for any kind of abuse in our sport and the coaching standards of the past will not be the same as those of the future.

“We will create a new culture and make sure that the voice of the gymnast is at the center of everything we do. We will change gymnastics for the better.”

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