Q&A: what is the Whyte Review into gymnastics and what happens next?

How did the review come about? The Whyte Review was co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England in 2020 after numerous gymnasts spoke out about bullying, abuse and discrimination in the sport – and said their concerns had not been properly investigated by British Gymnastics.

Did this abuse reach the highest levels? Yes. Multiple Olympic and world medallists have spoken out, including sisters Becky and Ellie Downie, who said that “cruel” behaviour was “so ingrained in our daily lives that it became completely normalised”.

Ellie Downie, who in 2017 became the first British gymnast to win a major all-around title at the European championships, said she would not eat or drink the night before weigh-in day and was once told by a coach that she “hoped the painkillers I was holding for an injury were diet pills”. Meanwhile her teammates Ruby Harrold and Amy Tinkler have described a “culture of fear” at training camps at Lilleshall and said it was like being in a “prison”. The former women’s head coach, Amanda Reddin, has always denied any wrongdoing.

Were there also widespread issues at the sport’s grassroots? Yes. In her interim report last year, Anne Whyte QC revealed that British Gymnastics had received 300 complaints a year on average between 2015 and 2020, and that she had received information concerning more than 100 coaches and 90 clubs. Of these, 39 cases were considered so serious they have been passed to local authorities because of child safeguarding reasons or concerns of ongoing criminal conduct.

Whyte said that “reoccurring issues” included “bullying, belittling, extreme weight management, regular overstretching, use of excessive physical force, training on serious injuries, gaslighting, coercive control and a reluctance to raise complaints/lack of opportunity to do so”.

She added: “One of the common themes running through these disclosures was a sense that the governing body in the UK, British Gymnastics, had not only failed to prevent or limit such behaviours but had condoned them in the pursuit of national and international competitive success.”

What are we expecting from the full report? More of the same – only with more details and recommendations for change. Whyte’s 300-page review is said to be critical of the previous regime while also accepting that British Gymnastics has reformed since the departure of former CEO Jane Allen.

Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.

Will this be the end of the matter? No. British Gymnastics is also facing separate legal action from dozens of gymnasts, including a number of Olympians, who allege widespread physical and emotional abuse. They allege there was a “culture of bodyshaming” perpetuated by British Gymnastics, with teenage gymnasts required to “starve themselves” to hit target weights and being given “punishment conditioning” or having to wear a “fat suit” if they failed to do so.

Last week 19-year-old gymnast Eloise Jotischky became the first person to win a civil case against British Gymnastics for the abuse she suffered in the sport. Jotischky alleged that she was left “physically exhausted” after being subjected to inappropriate weight management techniques by her coach, who put her on a diet of about 800 calories for a non-training day, and about 1,200 calories on a training day. The NHS says that teenage girls should consume between 2,200-2,500 calories per day.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.