New lock­down fears

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ben Rumsby and Molly McEl­wee

Coron­avirus out­breaks in rugby league and women’s foot­ball have raised con­cerns that a num­ber of com­pe­ti­tions across sport may be forced back into lock­down. Hull’s meet­ing with Castle­ford and Sal­ford’s game with Cata­lans this week­end have been called off and the week­end fix­tures re­jigged after a spate of pos­i­tive Covid-19 tests.

The Gov­ern­ment was last night warned young gym­nasts may be at risk of fur­ther abuse due to the time it was tak­ing to launch an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the scan­dal that has en­gulfed Bri­tish Gym­nas­tics.

It is now four weeks since UK Sport and Sport Eng­land, which are an­swer­able to min­is­ters, re­vealed they were tak­ing over the com­mis­sion­ing of the re­view, say­ing they in­tended to move “swiftly” in fi­nal­is­ing and pub­lish­ing de­tails of it. That was after Bri­tish Gym­nas­tics stepped aside fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of its own in­de­pen­dent re­view into an avalanche of al­le­ga­tions that those tak­ing part in the sport had been bul­lied, beaten and starved.

A QC was ap­pointed to lead that re­view within a day of the scan­dal but, as of last night, the iden­tity of the head of the new re­view had not been con­firmed, with UK Sport and Sport Eng­land say­ing they were close to con­firm­ing the ap­point­ment of an in­de­pen­dent QC “to lead the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions made, while also fi­nal­is­ing the terms of ref­er­ence”.

How­ever, Vicki Ag­gar, the chair of the Bri­tish Ath­letes Com­mis­sion, said she had heard noth­ing about the re­view since it was an­nounced and had yet to be en­gaged over de­vel­op­ing its terms of ref­er­ence.

Gyms have now re­opened fol­low­ing the coron­avirus cri­sis and shadow sports min­is­ter Ali­son McGovern said: “If this takes a long time, what we do risk is con­duct be­ing re­peated, and that’s not OK.

“I would ask all of those in­volved to ex­pe­dite this, be­cause that’s the best way to get to the bot­tom of what’s hap­pened and to put rules in place to make sure that there’s no fur­ther risk to young ath­letes.”

Olympian Han­nah Whe­lan, who re­cently re­vealed she con­tacted

Bri­tish Gym­nas­tics in 2015 and 2018 but never heard back, said: “It was go­ing to take time, but it’s frus­trat­ing we’ve heard noth­ing at all. We don’t know how many gym­nasts may be feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble be­cause they have come for­ward, and yet they’re go­ing back into the gym.”

UK Sport and Sport Eng­land added in a joint state­ment that they were “tak­ing into ac­count the na­ture and scale of com­plaints made from within gym­nas­tics since we first an­nounced our in­ten­tions. Fol­low­ing this, we will make a for­mal and pub­lic an­nounce­ment.

“We owe it to all those af­fected and to those in­volved at all lev­els of gym­nas­tics to take the time to get this right and that is ex­actly what we are do­ing.”

The Gov­ern­ment did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

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