Team GB gymnastics coach Amanda Reddin quits before abuse review

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Alan Edwards/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Alan Edwards/Alamy

The top women’s gymnastics coach Amanda Reddin, who helped steer Team GB’s gymnasts to their greatest Olympic performance at the Rio Games in 2016, has quit just weeks before an independent review into abuse in the sport.

The news was announced by British Gymnastics, who said that it had been “mutually agreed” that Reddin would move on from her role as head national coach with immediate effect.

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British Gymnastics revealed that Reddin had been cleared of some of the accusations against her, but another independent investigation was ongoing into “further historical complaints”.

Reddin’s methods have been criticised by a number of gymnasts including the Team GB star Ruby Harrold, who claimed she presided over a “culture of fear” at training camps in Lilleshall, and described food portions that left her and her fellow gymnasts hungry. Another Rio 2016 star, the bronze medallist Amy Tinkler, said that she had been “terrified” of Reddin and described training as like a “prison”.

Reddin strenuously denied any wrongdoing but temporarily stood down and missed last year’s Tokyo Games while the complaints were looked at by an independent panel run by the disputes body Sports Resolutions.

In a statement, British Gymnastics said: “Following the conclusion of the Sports Resolutions process and changes in the sport over the past 18 months, it has been mutually agreed she will step down with immediate effect.”

It added: “Further historical complaints, unrelated to employment matters, remain and a robust independent process is under way to ensure a thorough and fair investigation. Amanda has, and continues to fully cooperate with all investigations.”

It was reported by ITV News in August 2020 that British Gymnastics had been unable to substantiate historic allegations against Reddin that included claims of fat-shaming, slapping and shouting. Reddin said at the time that she “completely refuted” the historical claim.

Reddin’s departure comes ahead of the Whyte review, a Sport England and UK Sport-commissioned review into abuse at the elite and grassroots level of gymnastics led by Anne Whyte QC. Its publication had been due in late May but the Guardian understands that it is now unlikely to be published until the middle of June.

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British Gymnastics is also facing separate legal action from 38 gymnasts, including a number of Olympians, who allege widespread physical and emotional abuse.

A legal letter sent to the governing body last year says that young gymnasts – some of whom competed for Team GB – were punched, kicked, slapped or held by the ears by coaches as an “act of humiliation” when they did not perform moves correctly.

The letter also alleges that there was a “culture of bodyshaming” perpetuated by British Gymnastics, with teenage gymnasts required to “starve themselves” to hit target weights and being given “punishment conditioning” or having to wear a “fat suit” if they failed to do so.

Meanwhile, Rhys McClenaghan will be barred from defending his pommel horse gold medal at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

A ruling by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has informed McClenaghan, Eamon Montgomery and Ewan McAteer that they will not be able to compete for Northern Ireland. The body said the ruling had been made because the gymnasts represent Ireland in FIG events.

Olympic finalist McClenaghan, from Newtownards in County Down, won Northern Ireland’s only gold at the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast.

He tweeted: “I was born in Northern Ireland, my residence is in Northern Ireland and I represented and won Gold for Northern Ireland in the last Commonwealth Games. I feel that FIG do not understand the gravity of the Belfast Agreement and the unique situation pertaining to Northern Ireland.

“I would like to ask the FIG to reconsider their decision and allow us to compete at the Commonwealth Games.”

Commonwealth Games NI described the decision as “reprehensible” and vowed to challenge the ruling. “All three athletes were born in Northern Ireland, and have parents born in Northern Ireland, but yet they have been told that they are ineligible to compete for Northern Ireland,” it said.

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