Gymnasts urged to speak out about abuse despite impending closure of helpline

Rebecca Downie is one of several gymnasts to have spoken about an alleged culture of abuse

Gymnasts are being urged to continue to speak out about alleged abuse in their sport despite the impending closure of a helpline dedicated to supporting those wishing to report cases of perceived improper practice.

The helpline, which was launched last summer by the NSPCC and the British Athletes Commission, had received 221 calls by the end of January, over half of which were referred to external agencies such as the police or social services.

One hundred and twenty of those calls were made in the first five weeks, in the wake of a series of allegations by past and present elite gymnasts including Olympic bronze medallist Amy Tinkler, and world medallists Becky and Ellie Downie.

Confirming the helpline’s closure at the end of February, NSPCC Helpline service head Louise Exton said: “Since allegations of abuse and mistreatment from high-profile athletes shook the foundations of gymnastics in the UK, we’ve heard from more and more people with similar experiences.

“It is crucial that everyone has their voices heard to be able to better safeguard future generations and our joint helpline with the BAC has been vital in enabling this to happen.

“Despite the closure of the dedicated helpline, it is never too late to speak out about your experiences to seek support, and we urge anyone with a concern to get in touch.”

The Whyte Review, an independent review which was jointly commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England, is currently investigating the allegations and the handling of complaints by governing body British Gymnastics, which did not wish to comment.

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From 1 March, gymnasts wishing to report incidents of abuse or seek support will be directed to the NSPCC’s main phone line, 0808 800 5000.

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