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Baroness Grey-Thompson says the Whyte Review must lead to meaningful change

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson believes the publication of the Whyte Review, which has revealed a shocking culture of physical and emotional abuse in British gymnastics, should lead the government to play a role in preventing similar scandals in the future.

It has been over five years since another report, “Duty of Care in Sport,” was published by Baroness Grey-Thompson herself. It was commissioned by the then Secretary of State for Sport, Tracey Crouch, and put forward seven ‘priority recommendations’ to eliminate harmful environments in sport.

Since the 2012 London Olympics, there have been bullying, abuse and welfare scandals in British sports, from cycling and swimming to bobsleigh, athletics, canoeing and gymnastics.

The shocking findings in the Gymnastics Review were put together by Anne Whyte QC over two years and include evidence from more than 400 people. Up to half of Whyte’s witnesses described physical and emotional abuse. Allegations of sexual abuse were made in 30 submissions.

Touching testimonies from children as young as seven years old described how gymnasts were beaten, spat at and forced to perform dangerous routines against their will. Many testified that they had been “fat shamed,” denied access to food and water, and developed eating disorders and mental health problems as a result.

“It’s just awful to read about the experiences,” Baroness Grey-Thompson told The Mail on Sunday. “If now isn’t the time to make meaningful change, in all sports, what the heck are we doing? We can’t sit still any longer.’

Tanni Grey-Thompson says government must intervene to prevent another scandal like this

Tanni Grey-Thompson says government must intervene to prevent another scandal like this

Former Team GB Paralympian says many agencies don't want legislation, but now might be the time

Former Team GB Paralympian says many agencies don’t want legislation, but now might be the time

One of the key recommendations of the 2017 report by Baroness Grey-Thompson (right) was the creation of a body that “should have powers to hold national governing bodies accountable for the duty of care they give to all athletes, coaching staff and support.” . staff’.

Other proposals included that each governing body should have a ‘duty of care’ on its board and make it mandatory to receive government funding. A duty of care charter was also proposed ‘which explicitly states how participants, coaches and support staff can be treated and where they can go if they need advice, support and guidance’.

But the recommendations for Grey-Thompson’s report were shelved.

Commenting on Whyte’s findings, Grey-Thompson said: “Obviously this is complicated territory. There is a price to pay for participating in elite sport. You must be physically and mentally resilient.

Her 2017 'Duty of Care in Sport' led to seven recommendations, all of which were shelved

Her 2017 ‘Duty of Care in Sport’ led to seven recommendations, all of which were shelved

Most of the victims of this scandal are children - 75 per cent of British Gymnastics members are under the age of 12

Most of the victims of this scandal are children – 75 per cent of British Gymnastics members are under the age of 12

‘But there has to be a line where success or even participation doesn’t cost too much. We are talking about people, and people in sports should be free from harm, bullying and abuse.

“When I did my report, I was talking to athletes who had been through very difficult things, and I don’t mean hard training. Abuse.

‘Many authorities do not want legislation, but perhaps now is the time. It is the government that has to play a mediating role in bringing things together.’

The Whyte Review says a culture of ‘money for medals’ in British Olympic sport, which has emerged since the advent of lottery funding, may have contributed to the gymnastics scandal.

Baroness Grey-Thompson says the idea of ​​caring about how many medals Team GB win is inconsistent with how normal people view sports

Baroness Grey-Thompson says the idea of ​​caring about how many medals Team GB win is inconsistent with how normal people view sports

Whyte was judgmental that British Gymnastics had failed to maintain a complete record of complaints between 2008 and 2016. “The incurable interpretation is that the mission process was a window dressing for those sports, such as gymnastics, where … the medals were more important than amber ratings and more than the well-being of the athlete.”

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: ‘Do people who watch sports know how many medals Team GB win? They remember moments, not numbers of medals.

“So many athletes and coaches have told me that they are routinely introduced by the color of medals they have won, and that can’t be right. We are all human first and foremost.’

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