LONDON (AP) — The British Gymnastics governing body has launched of an independent review into allegations of abuse in the sport.
Catherine Lyons, a 19-year-old former gymnast, told ITV News she was assaulted and bullied by a coach as a young girl. Lisa Mason, a gold medalist at the 1998 Commonwealth Games who competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, also reported abuse from a coach as a youngster.
“The behaviors we have heard about in recent days are completely contrary to our standards of safe coaching and have no place in our sport,” British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen said Tuesday. “It is clear that gymnasts did not feel they could raise their concerns to British Gymnastics and it is vital that an independent review helps us better understand why so we can remove any barriers as quickly as possible.”
Lawyer Jane Mulcahy will conduct the review of the allegations that were labeled “shocking and upsetting” by the UK Sport government agency.
“There is absolutely no place for any sort of bullying or abuse in sport and anyone responsible for such behavior must be held accountable, with support offered to those affected,” UK Sport said.
UK Sport, which oversees funding for British Olympic and Paralympic athletes, said it would determine an “appropriate response” after establishing the facts with British Gymnastics.
“It is essential that all athletes feel comfortable to come forward and share concerns they may have in a safe and confidential environment,” UK Sport said.
The British Athletes Commission said it was “deeply troubled” by the abuses and claims of a culture of fear.
“No athlete should be expected to tolerate an abuse of power or poor practice,” the commission said. “The performance environment should be a place of mutual trust and respect where athletes are supported in achieving their best. The BAC is worried to hear of athlete experiences which appear not to reflect these standards and would urge that any allegations are investigated thoroughly.”
British Olympic officials said they were “alarmed” to hear of the allegations.
“No athlete should suffer abuse in pursuit of their sporting ambitions,” the British Olympic Association said.
The allegations came as former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar is serving decades in prison for sexual assault and possession of child pornography in Michigan.
Hundreds of athletes have come forward over the last three years saying Nassar abused them under the guise of treatment, including reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman.
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