Olympic medallist Nile Wilson has claimed British gymnasts continue to be “treated like pieces of meat” and that a “culture of abuse” exists within the sport.
British Gymnastics has become engulfed by scandal following escalating allegations of bullying and abuse.
Wilson, who won bronze on the horizontal bar at Rio 2016, is one of the highest-profile complainants and admits he was scared to speak out for fear of harming his future selection prospects.
“I would absolutely describe it as a culture of abuse, and I have lived and breathed it for 20 years,” he told the BBC.
“It’s emotional manipulation, being pushed through physical pain was certainly something I experienced. The gymnasts are still, in my opinion, treated like pieces of meat.
“I would say that I was abused. But we wanted to win Olympic medals – the governing body wanted to win Olympic medals, the coaches wanted to win Olympic medals.”
Earlier this year, Yorkshireman Wilson made a complaint over an altercation with a senior member of staff at a social event at Leeds Gymnastics Club.
The grievance did not relate to his training or coaching staff and, following an internal club investigation, it was dismissed – a decision upheld after a review by British Gymnastics.
“I was told and felt like I was the problem. It was evident it was pushed under the carpet,” the 24-year-old said.
“I just felt like I wasn’t being heard and I was wrong. The governing body and Leeds, they didn’t care at all. (I felt) completely worthless.”
According to the BBC, Leeds Gymnastics Club said it disputed Wilson’s version of events and the allegations were “professionally” and “robustly” investigated, with the outcome independently verified.
Wilson has since left his hometown club and revealed he was concerned that airing grievances may cost him a place at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
“For so long now we are made to feel fear or scared of speaking out,” Wilson said.
“And, if I voice my concern, I may affect my selection for the Olympic Games. I am scared talking to you.
“The reason I am talking, which has been one of the hardest decisions I have made, is because my incident this year highlights that there is still a challenge in the culture of gymnastics and it starts at the top.”
An independent review has been launched following public complaints from gymnasts from all ages and levels of the sport.
According to the BBC, British Gymnastics said any mistreatment of gymnasts is “inexcusable at any level” and it is vital that concerns are made public.
The governing body also said it had not yet received any complaint from Wilson relating to his gymnastics career.
The PA news agency has contacted British Gymnastics for comment.