There is a cultural issue within gymnastics coaching that must be resolved to tackle abuse, says the head of the sport’s ethics organisation.
Alex McLin, director of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation, added that coaches “with a certain methodology” need to change or leave the sport.
He said that body shaming is an issue in the sport and is “unacceptable”.
This week, the British Athletes Commission and NSPCC joined forces to launch a helpline to support athletes.
That move has come amid ongoing allegations of abuse within British gymnastics.
Several gymnasts have come forward detailing their experiences of mistreatment in recent weeks.
The Gymnastics Ethics Foundation was set up in January 2019 by the FIG, gymnastics’ world governing body, following the Larry Nassar abuse case in the United States.
“We’ve heard enough testimony to know that this is a cultural issue that we see internationally,” McLin said. “There is a cultural issue with coaching. That doesn’t mean it’s universal, there’s a lot of positive coaching out there as well.
“So you’re talking about people who’ve coached successfully for a long time, with certain methodology, and who perhaps need to adapt or leave the sport if they can’t.
“These are big changes, and they take time, so we’re trying to make sure that happens as quickly as possible but it’s no small feat.”
He said body shaming is an issue that still needs to be addressed in the sport.
“We know it’s a problem – and no, it’s not acceptable, so that’s absolutely clear,” McLin added.
“If there’s an issue at the judging level, then that needs to be addressed as well.”
Fern Schofield, from the NSPCC, said it was “vital to hear the voices of gymnasts”. She said: “Safeguarding in sport should always be the top priority and to hear that hasn’t been happening is extremely disturbing.”