LONDON (Reuters) - British
gymnasts were subject to widespread physical and mental abuse in a system where such behavior was condoned in the pursuit of national and international success, an independent report concluded on Thursday.
The review, led by Anne Whyte QC, was commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England in August 2020 following allegations of mistreatment within the sport in Britain.
The 306-page report, which examined over 400 complaints, found that British gymnastics suffered from a cultural problem where young athletes were shamed for their weight while others were handed harsh punishments for the slightest mistakes in training.
“This behavior included physical chastisement, inappropriate training on injury, the enforcement of excessive training hours and training loads leading to physical pain and exhaustion beyond acceptable limits,” said Whyte.
Athletes were also prevented from using the toilet and refused access to drinking water during long practice sessions.
“One wonders how many sporting scandals it will take before the government of the day appreciates it needs to take more action to protect children who participate in sport,” added Whyte.
Over 75 percent of British Gymnastics’ members over the last decade were under the age of 12, the report said.
UK Sport and Sport England accepted the findings and endorsed all the recommendations.
“The gymnasts’ experiences shared in this Review are harrowing and distressing to read. No-one in sport should ever be subjected to such abuse,” they said in a statement.