The documentary “Athlete A” currently being aired worldwide detailing the Larry Nassar scandal within USA Gymnastics, describes what was a profoundly heart-breaking and harrowing series of events over a sustained period of time that should never have happened.
It was a disturbing watch as the documentary focussed on the impact of these events on the lives of brave gymnasts who spoke out about their experiences.
This quite rightly has shaken the sport to its core and athletes both past and present within the UK and around the world have spoken out on social media in support of their friends and fellow gymnasts within the USA.
British Gymnastics CEO Jane Allen MBE
"We echo and applaud the sentiment universally shared by current and former elite gymnasts across social media. Gymnastics must always be a safe, welcoming, and supportive place for all gymnasts. We, too, stand by our athletes to ensure gymnastics is a sport where hard work and amazing performances are balanced with a supportive and caring culture.
We fully acknowledge that as a sport we must continually strive for cultural change, inspired by the athlete voice, in all aspects of the sport where behaviours in the past are now rightfully being recognised as unacceptable.
Whilst we acknowledge there have been inadequate practices along the way, we have worked tirelessly to try and eradicate them.
- Our Integrity Unit has systems and processes in place to deal with complaints and offer support to our members as well as welfare officers in the field to work with clubs at every level
- To initiate the drive for cultural change within our coaching workforce, an e-learning “Positive Coaching” course is now mandatory for all coaches registered with British Gymnastics. More emphasis on behaviours is now included in formal coaching courses
- Cultural health checks have been conducted annually with athlete ambassadors and representatives now in place to encourage and listen to athlete views.
We believe the environment that our athletes now find themselves in, is improved and striving to be welcoming, supportive and open. We applaud all those that instigated and helped contribute to the system we have in place now. We are committed to continual improvement and know that this can only happen if it involves a strong athlete voice."
Whilst sport worldwide has been slow to address cultural flaws, the statement issued yesterday by a group of concerned current and past gymnasts and the ensuing debate over social media shows a collective voice keen to seek change. In response British Gymnastics will be organising an independent forum for those who are willing to share their experiences that will help us to shape the future. Details will follow as soon as possible.
Also, for anyone that has concerns around specific incidents or behaviours that they believe should be reported, they can confidentially contact the British Gymnastics Integrity Unit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, British Gymnastics is committed to learn from others and endeavours to always listen to our community whilst also working with our coaches and officials to make every step going forwards a better day for gymnastics.