Further allegations of sexual abuse in gymnastics
New allegations of sexual abuse at the former Olga gymnastics club in Poole have been reported in the Guardian earlier today.
It was sadly of little surprise to me that further allegations of abuse in gymnastics have been made – this is something that I have predicted for a long time. I expect more allegations in the future. It feels like the media, government and gymnastics itself have yet to recognise the scale of abuse that there has been.
This is in part because there has yet to be a full inquiry into the frequency of abuse in gymnastics circles or how it was normalised, covered up and allowed to proliferate.
The 2022 Whyte Review, commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England was initially welcomed but it quickly became clear that it was far too limited in scope and ambition. It did not even cover any abuse pre-2008, even though it should be clear that abuse has been taking place in gymnastics for decades.
Gymnastics was hardly mentioned in the Truth Project report on Child Sexual Abuse In Sports and if it was specifically mentioned even once in the final report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, then I’ve still not found it. There are specific pressures on gymnasts, particularly surrounding gender and body image, that render gymnastics particularly vulnerable to abuse and set gymnastics apart from many other sports.
There have been, and continue to be, clear abuses of power by coaches, not just at the top end of professional elite gymnastics but throughout amateur gymnastics clubs and organisations as well. I expect there will be many more disclosures of abuse made before the public learns the truth of how widespread the problem has been.
It is high time that there was a full inquiry into abuse and coaching standards in gymnastics.
I act and have acted in civil claims on behalf of a number of victims of abuse in gymnastics and so I know from experience that there can be no doubt that safeguarding in gymnastics has been failing for decades. I have extensive experience in representing survivors of abuse and I am happy to advise anyone who may need support in this regard.