Mistreatment Of Gymnasts ‘Extremely Shocking’

Mental Health and Eating disorders

The results of a review that looked at whether gymnasts were mistreated with regards to extreme weight controlling and food restrictions have been described as “extremely shocking” by an eating disorder charity.

Beat’s director of external affairs Tom Quinn commented on the Whyte Review, which looked at the welfare of gymnasts between 2008 and 2020, determining that there were several incidences of punishments when weight targets had not been met.

“That such appalling and systemic abuse and extreme weight management practices, such as punishing young gymnasts for weight changes, body shaming and withholding food, was allowed to take place is deeply concerning,” he stated.

The Whyte Review came about after several gymnasts and their parents alleged there was mistreatment within British Gymnastics, and the organisation did not deal with the complaints it had received on the matter.

In its conclusion, it found there was a failure to protect gymnasts during this period.

The report revealed there was excessive weight management, including daily weighing, and humiliating and disparaging comments. Consequently, many resorted to purging, dehydrating, hiding, and avoiding food.

Indeed, it noted there were “worrying levels of long-lasting eating orders” among athletes, as well as body dysmorphic disorder, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Quinn said it is “crucial” athletes feel safe within their team and have access to specialist support if they need it.

“British Gymnastics must urgently take the steps needed to protect those with or vulnerable to eating disorders, and must never allow this harmful practice to happen again,” he commented.

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Published: 11 August 2022