Gymnastics scandal shows need for independent sports regulator | Sean Ingle
We have independent regulators for energy and the media – why not sport? It is time to force the system to change
Was it really worth it? That was the first question I asked British Gymnastics’ new chief executive, Sarah Powell, when those stomach‑retching stories in the Whyte review became public. Were those 16 shiny Olympic medals won since 2008 really justified by the human cost – of so many young gymnasts starved, humiliated and abused by a system that ruthlessly put the pursuit of glory over their welfare? “For me it is not about medals and welfare,” she replied. “It can be both and it should be both.”
That has certainly not always been the case at British Gymnastics. We have heard a lot about British sporting exceptionalism since the London 2012 Games. But there is nothing exceptional about girls as young as seven being sat on by coaches to “overstretch” their bodies. Or getting strapped to bars for long periods of time as punishment. Or being forced to train when injured and then punished for crying. It has been part of the playbook of former Soviet states and China for decades. To realise it was common in one of Britain’s golden sports is sickening and damning.Continue reading...