British Gymnastics chairman Mike Darcey says the organisation “must do better” to ensure there is no further abuse in the sport and is “deeply sorry” for letting the gymnastics community down.
The governing body is the subject of a legal claim raised by 37 former gymnasts, including three Olympians, who say they were victims of alleged systemic physical and psychological abuse.
British Gymnastics has already responded by appointing Sarah Powell as its new chief executive, with other changes coming to the board in the coming months.
Darcey says the organisation, which is complying with an official review into its conduct, has let people down and that abuse is “not acceptable”.
Our Chair, Mike Darcey, has written an open letter to members.
— British Gymnastics (@BritGymnastics) August 17, 2021
He said in a statement: “As we reflect on some great moments from the Olympic Games in Tokyo, we also need to acknowledge that, alongside gymnastics growing rapidly over the last decade, our organisation has, on several fronts, failed to keep up with that growth.
“The board has taken stock over recent months. It is evident that the executive team and the board have failed to be close enough to the gymnastics community to understand your concerns, and our engagement with those raising concerns has not been good enough.
“We have let you down, and we are deeply sorry for that.
“While we acknowledge that there is much good practice within the sport in the UK, we must make it clear to the whole membership that abusive practices including training on injuries, bullying, shouting, and weight shaming are not acceptable.
“There is increasing awareness of such practices in gymnastics, including globally.
“The independent Whyte Review has been commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England with Terms of Reference aimed at providing recommendations for improvement and change. We welcome this review.
“We must do better to ensure there is no place for abuse in our sport. We are determined and committed to change within British Gymnastics and it is not necessary to wait until the Whyte Review reports to start to do that.”
Sarah Powell to become the new CEO of British Gymnastics.
— British Gymnastics (@BritGymnastics) June 18, 2021
As well as a new chief executive and executive director of sport, three non-executive members of the board will be replaced, a new national welfare officer will be appointed and a new system for tracking safeguarding complaints will be implemented.
Darcey added: “The board understands the anger felt within the community. This has been a very difficult period for the sport.
“We know that trust will not be earned simply by announcing these changes – trust will only be earned with consistency of action over time.
“Working with the executive team, we are focused on delivering for you and are committed to fundamentally changing the culture at the heart of British Gymnastics to ensure that there will never be an excuse for poor behaviour in gymnastics at any level.”