Helpline for abused gymnasts receives more than 120 calls
NSPCC reiterates importance of athletes coming forward Fragapane and Simm climb down after support for Reddin
A helpline for British gymnasts who have suffered abuse in the sport has received more than 120 welfare calls since launching last month.
The helpline was set up by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the British Athlete Commission on July 20 in response to a growing number of gymnasts going public with their experiences of a “culture of fear” in gymnastics.
The free helpline has been inundated with more than 120 welfare contacts. It is confidential and staffed by independent counselThe lors, and the calls have ranged from complaints to those voicing concerns, and an as yet unconfirmed number have been referred to relevant external authorities.
“It is incredibly important that so many gymnasts, parents and people involved in the sport at all levels have come forward to talk about their experiences of abuse and mistreatment in gymnastics,” Louise Exton, NSPCC helpline service head, said. “We’ve heard claims about gymnasts being physically punished or emotionally abused by being relentlessly called lazy or inadequate, or being forced to remain at an unhealthy weight.”
British Gymnastics declined to comment on the news, but it is has been another week of upheaval. On Tuesday, a review headed by Anne Whyte QC and led by UK Sport and Sport England into mistreatment within gymnastics opened with calls for evidence from those involved in the sport to help inform their independent investigation.
There also appeared to be discord among the British elite team yesterday, when Commonwealth medallists Claudia Fragapane and Kelly Simm publicly apologised after coming under fire for seeming to voice support for an allegedly abusive national team coach.
Amanda Reddin, who was due to lead Great Britain’s women’s team at the Olympics next year, “temporarily stepped aside” from her role on Tuesday. Reddin categorically denies all allegations made against her in recent days, some of which stretch back to the 1980s.
“The way everything is continuing to come out in the media at the moment feels so unfair,” Simm wrote on Tuesday night.
“What upsets me and makes me angry is that the social media/TV portray people in a negative way before they have a chance to have their say,” Fragapane added.
Yesterday Fragapane and Simm apologised on social media, and encouraged people to submit their experiences to the Whyte Review.
“I’m so sorry my tweet yesterday has been taken the wrong way,” Simm wrote. “I of course support & stand with all the girls… We have all been through so much TOGETHER & it’s clear something has to change.” Fragapane added: “Same here, we both didn’t mean for it come across that way.”
Apology: Claudia Fragapane says support of Amanda Reddin was not criticism of the review