British Gymnastics has introduced new safeguarding rules that will prevent coaches from weighing athletes in a bid to stamp out methods it said are “on the brink of abuse”.
The rules are part of a series of policies being introduced by the governing body following the 2022 Whyte Review, which found there was “systemic” physical and emotional abuse within the sport.
British Gymnastics has said it intends to go beyond the recommendations of this report to stamp out “harmful practices”.
Under the new rules, female athletes 10 and under cannot be weighed. Those over this age may only weigh in with the consent of both the athlete and, if under 18, a parent or guardian.
If athletes are weighed, it must be done by a sports science or medical practitioner, with a “scientifically valid rationale” for it, including measuring growth or planning strength and conditioning exercises.
British Gymnastics said the policy was introduced “to prevent inappropriate practice and address potential concerns about weigh-ins due to certain associated psychological conditions and risks of developing mental health problems such as eating disorders/eating disorders, anxiety and depression”.
“Improperly or excessively weighing gymnasts is an example of malpractice that may border on abuse and if/or if repeated could amount to abuse,” he added.
The Whyte review focused on 2008 to 2020 and received more than 400 submissions of which more than 40 percent described physical abuse by coaches towards gymnasts.
In a statement, British Gymnastics chief executive Sarah Powell said: “Above all, we care about gymnasts as people and these new policies make it clear that what matters most in gymnastics is the wellbeing of those involved.
“Whilst training has come a long way, we know there has been poor practice in these areas and so by providing clarity to gymnasts, parents and carers, coaches, clubs, volunteers and officials through the statements set out in these policies you will make sure everyone understands what it’s okay and what not and help prevent this in the future.’
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