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Former gymnasts take legal action against British Gymnastics

17 former gymnasts are taking legal action against British Gymnastics over the suffering of systemic physical and psychological abuse in the sport.

Former gymnasts take legal action against British Gymnastics

The women, who range in ages from 15 to 43, are hoping to receive compensation for the long-term and continued suffering of physical and psychological abuse, which allegedly occurred during their years as gymnasts.


The victims claim to still suffer from depression, musculoskeletal conditions and PTSD but are vowing to hope to change the culture of the sport with this legal action.


A Letter Before Action was received by British Gymnastics last week, detailing the abuse the gymnasts received from coaches and others employed by the governing body at clubs around the UK, including inappropriate use of physical force by coaches, a "cavalier" attitude towards injuries and excessive control over food and fluid intake.


Gabbie Cooke is just one of those who are involved in the group and claims that she is still haunted and scarred from the years of abuse and intimidation she was the subject of by a coach.


"I'm still in a process of healing from it," said Cooke. "I've dealt with PTSD and the long-term effects of PTSD and am currently in counselling for it.


"I want British Gymnastics to feel this, to actually feel the widespread abuse they have allowed due to their inaction and ignorance.


"I want them to feel it and I want them to seriously reconsider their policies and with those policies I want them to have an effective practical action plan on how to truly safeguard athletes who are children."


Another, Claire Heafford, who is leading the groups claim after founding Gymnasts for Change, believes that this is an important step in their mission to improve the sport for athlete welfare.


This is a landmark moment in our campaign for justice," she said. "This is not and has never been about a few bad apples, this is about decades of systemic abuse, encouraged and covered up by those at the top.


"The hopes and dreams of countless children and young adults of competing as professional gymnasts have been destroyed and their love for the sport is now shrouded in fear and suffering."


Revelations of the abuse were first seen last summer, prompting an NSPCC hotline to be set up, that has so far received 220 calls of which half have been referred to the police or social services due to the severity of the allegations made.


An independent review into the allegations by Anne Whyte QC and co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England is expected to be reported back later this year.




Author: Jake Wilkin