A “multi-million pound investment in the integrity of British sport” was launched following the British Gymnastics abuse scandal. The proposals from funding bodies UK Sport and Sport England include 19 commitments to create safer environments for participants, better coaching and workforce support at elite and grassroots level.
It follows last year’s Whyte Review in gymnastics, which painted a shocking and often sick picture of the culture at all levels of the sport. Significant other well-being issues have also been reported in a number of sports, including athletics, cycling and swimming.
“We have a responsibility to gymnasts, parents, coaches and others to ensure that their courage in coming forward and contributing to the Whyte Review not only leads to progress in their sport, but has a lasting legacy across the sport,” said Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England. , and Sally Munday, chief executive of UK Sport.
“Today is a positive step forward, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done to ensure that all sports are consistently safe, welcoming and inclusive for all.”
The proposals also call for the establishment of regional support officers to promote good practice and safe sport at local level, as well as strengthening the control of coaches. However, questions remain, including how all the liabilities will be funded, with UK Athletics recently blaming part of its £1.8m loss year on spending £600,000 on casework.
Hollingsworth predicted the initiative would ultimately ease the financial burden on individual sports. “If you look at all 19 commitments, generally we’re looking at ways it can support the sector rather than burdening individual organizations with more individual responsibilities,” he said.
Simon Morton, chief operating officer of UK Sport, said the level of support would be significant. “I don’t think we’ve added up the total cost of the reforms in this package, but it’s a multi-million dollar investment in the integrity of British sport.”