20 Jul British Gymnastics: NSPCC says abuse claims are ‘extremely disturbing’ | UK News
Allegations of bullying and abuse within British Gymnastics have been described as “extremely disturbing” by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
The NSPCC is launching a dedicated helpline to support anyone who has suffered abuse within the sport.
It comes after Olympic bronze medallist Amy Tinkler claims she was forced to retire from gymnastics over a “culture of bullying”.
Athletes from junior level to those in the current GB squad have spoken out against British Gymnastics in recent weeks.
The NSPCC’s chief executive Peter Wanless said the new helpline is a joint project between the charity and the British Athletes Commission (BAC).
He said: “The reports emerging from gymnastics in recent weeks have been extremely disturbing, so we’ve launched this dedicated helpline as it is absolutely vital that anyone who has suffered abuse has the opportunity to speak out and get the help they need.”
The helpline could also provide evidence for the upcoming independent review into British Gymnastics, he added.
It will be carried out by UK Sport and Sport England after British Gymnastics relinquished its role to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
Witnesses from centres across the country have told Sky News they were so scared of their coaches they would have panic attacks.
Catherine Lyons, a former British and European gymnast, claims she was beaten with a stick, and also dragged into a store cupboard, as a form of punishment at the age of 10.
The BAC’s head of athlete support, Sam Little, said: “Bullying and abuse have absolutely no place in modern-day sport, and that’s why, with the launch of the helpline today, we are unveiling what is just the first step in our ambitious package of athlete support measures.”
British Gymnastics says coach suspension was “not merited” in Ms Lyons’ case but they admitted not following protocol.
It is fully cooperating with the ongoing wider investigation.
The NSPCC helpline will be available 8am to 10pm on weekdays and 9am to 6pm on weekends on 0800 056 0566.