UK Sport chief wants medals won ‘the right way’ following abuse allegations

The head of UK Sport says Britain must win Olympic and Paralympic medals “the right way” and address the welfare issues which still exist.

Sally Munday, the chief executive of the elite sports funding body, said it was vital that the perception of the organisation, and of high-performance sport more widely, was not one of winning at all costs.

Allegations of abuse within British gymnastics and other sports have been in the headlines this year and Munday says how medals are won is now just as important as how many are won.

UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday says medals must be won the right way and all unacceptable behaviour be challenged
UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday says medals must be won the right way and all unacceptable behaviour be challenged

“Some have associated the phrase ‘win at all costs’ with UK Sport and performance sport,” Munday told the PLx 2020 high-performance sports conference.

“Whilst I have never believed this has been our culture in the 20-plus years I’ve been working in performance sport, the perception is out there.

“It’s reinforced by the testimonies of athletes who have suffered abuse. I believe by focusing on the ‘how’, we can remove that label by ensuring we collectively win the right way.”

Gymnast Amy Tinkler, a bronze medallist at the 2016 Games, has criticised the handling of her complaints by the governing body.

The issue of how allegations of mistreatment within the sport have been handled is now the subject of an independent review.

UK Sport has also commissioned an independent investigation into allegations raised by a former director at the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association, while a group of athletes wrote to the BBSA last month to highlight a number of governance concerns.

Munday added: “We now need to work collectively to embed a culture of winning the right way that permeates the whole of British performance sport.

“How we win will be equally important to what we win on the global stage and I want our sporting system to be known internationally for its people-first approach.

“We all know that the route to the top as an athlete is necessarily tough. You don’t get to be the best in the world easily.

“But even where tough, the experience should be one every athlete and staff member is able to look back on with pride whether they achieved their dreams or not.

“Our job in performance sport is to create the best possible environment and wrap the best possible support around our athletes to give them the best possible chance of achieving their ambitions.

“I believe we can and we will prove that medal success can be achieved across all our sports in a way that engenders a positive experience for everyone. We will prove that it is not ‘either or’.

“Many sports are already achieving this, but others, they need help. And this isn’t every sport for itself. Whilst we all know that the negative experiences are the minority, one experience of unacceptable behaviour is one too many.”