Britain restricts weighing of gymnasts in wake of abuse
Baku, November 30, AZERTAC
The weighing of gymnasts will be restricted under new British rules after a report detailed abuse in the sport, particularly of women and girls, according to New York Times.
Gymnasts who are 11 and older in Britain may now be weighed only with their permission and with the permission of a parent if they are under 18. The weighing must be done by sports science or medical practitioners and it must have a “scientifically valid rationale.”
Gymnasts 10 and under will no longer be permitted to be weighed at all in a gymnastics setting.
In addition, the new rules require that gymnasts be given opportunities to hydrate regularly when practicing and be allowed visits to the restroom when needed. They also require that children under 12 not be made to practice during normal school hours and that older children can miss class time only under “exceptional circumstances.”
An independent investigation in 2022 found that the well being of gymnasts “has not been at the center of British Gymnastics’ culture.”
The report found many instances of physical abuse by coaches, like urging athletes to practice with injuries; emotional abuse, like name calling; and sexual abuse, like inappropriate touching.
More than a quarter of gymnasts surveyed said their weight had been monitored excessively. Gymnasts said that coaches controlled what they ate and publicly announced their weights.
The report said the problems primarily affected female gymnasts.
“While practices have moved on a long way, we know there has been poor practice in these areas,” Sarah Powell, the chief executive of British Gymnastics, said in a statement announcing the new rules.
Gymnastics, particularly for women, has been troubled for years with problems involving eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Gymnasts have frantically tried to lose weight, often with the encouragement of their coaches, to improve their performances, only to develop unhealthy relationships with food and body image.