British gymnastics CEO Sarah Powell emphasized that success and protection are not mutually exclusive as the board charts its way to regaining participants and parents’ trust in the wake of the whyte review’s critical June.
Powell says the 40-point “reform” plan published Monday will address recommendations made by Ann White KC across four key areas of protection, complaint handling, standards and education, and governance and oversight, and will provide concrete evidence of change within the next two years.
Whyte’s 306-page review accused the British Gymnastics It enabled a toxic culture that prioritized profit over the well-being of young athletes, and encouraged an era in which they were subjected to appalling levels of emotional and physical abuse.
Powell insists that the sport must continue to move away from prioritizing medals, and with it the lure of additional funding, in favor of creating a less dynamic environment for performance that would on the contrary better prepare athletes for success on the world stage.
“Before we talk about medals and performance, we should talk about the well-being and well-being of our gymnasts,” Powell told the Palestinian News Agency.
“I believe that if you make the well-being and well-being of the athletes paramount, they will be mentally and physically well prepared to move forward and achieve international success.
We cannot focus on the outcome because we cannot control it. What we can do is focus on making sure they are performing at their best by being in the best condition they can be – and that means we have to take care of them throughout the process.
“I am not saying that we are not ambitious and we do not want to see our gymnasts win medals at the World Championships in Liverpool. What we want to make sure is that we did it the right way, and gave them the right support mentally and physically.”
The “Reform” document 25 promised “zero tolerance” for cases of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, with more transparent complaints procedures and to make the names of the banned coaches available via the board’s official website.
Gymnasts and their parents will be fully involved in creating their training programs and workloads, and Powell said personal considerations of what might constitute acceptable training methods would be negated in favor of clearly defined limits.
“We need to remove that subjective — we need to be really clear and move from guidelines on stretching, weight management and nutrition, to policies that have to be adhered to at all times,” Powell added.
“It will be about education and making sure that people understand what is expected of them, and supporting the development and confidence of coaches to be able to enact those policies so that they are clear about what is acceptable and what is not.
“It is not about what is acceptable to one player that is not acceptable to the other. There should be clear boundaries in place.”
British Gymnastics says it will ensure that all welfare complaints are investigated independently and that complainants are promptly informed.
To this end, it appointed an independent advisor, former Olympic rowing silver medalist Catherine Bishop, to oversee the board’s implementation of the impending reforms.
“We are pleased to have Dr. Catherine Bishop on our Oversight Board,” Powell added.
“Not only does she offer an outside perspective, she offers a wealth of experience around values, culture, and leadership, and she really offers her vision to challenge the way we develop ‘reform’25.”