Under-fire British Gymnastics chief Jane Allen to retire

Announcement marks a ‘great day for the sport’, according to a British Olympic bronze medallist

Mark Staniforth
Wednesday 14 October 2020 10:26
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British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen
British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen

Under-fire British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen will retire from her role in December amid escalating allegations of bullying and abuse within the domestic sport.

Allen described the recent developments as "extremely difficult" and pledged her continued support for the Whyte Review, a joint UK Sport and Sport England investigation established in August to address the mounting claims.

The 65-year-old's departure will be welcomed by top gymnasts including Olympians Becky and Ellie Downie and Amy Tinkler, who described incidents of weight-shaming, and say serious complaints against coaches have not been dealt with efficiently under Allen's watch.

Allen said: "The last few months have been extremely difficult, but I will look back on my time with British Gymnastics with great pride for the growth and success we have sustained over a 10-year period.

"The Whyte Review will be an important step forward for gymnastics and other sports struggling to deal effectively with these issues. It is vital that this happens in a fair and transparent manner for all parties and I pledge my support to helping the sport to do that."

Allen intended to retire after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but agreed to extend her time at the helm due to the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and to help deal with the abuse claims, the PA news agency understands.

Nile Wilson, an Olympic bronze medallist at Rio 2016, has previously aired his views on a "culture of abuse" in British Gymnastics and took to social media to welcome Allen's exit.

In a video posted on his Instagram account, Wilson said: "It's a great day for the sport. [But] there's still a lot of work to do, we're not going to wake up tomorrow with one person gone and it's all going to be sunshine and rainbows and fixed.

"The cultural change that is needed starts at the top and this is a huge step. To all those that spoke bravely out, change is starting to happen."

Allen assumed the role with British Gymnastics in 2010 after 13 years in an equivalent position with Gymnastics Australia.

She presided over an unprecedented period of success including a record seven medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and was awarded an MBE for services to the sport in this year's New Year's Honours List.

Allen speaking in 2018

But she increasingly found herself at the centre of abuse allegations both at elite and club level, with almost 200 gymnasts registering complaints to a joint British Athletics Commission and NSPCC helpline.

In July, Allen admitted she was "appalled and ashamed" by allegations of bullying and abuse within the domestic sport, and applauded the "bravery" of those speaking out.

The following month, it was announced that she was temporarily standing down from her role on UK Sport's major events panel to avoid perceived conflicts of interest over the Whyte Review.

Amanda Reddin has temporarily stepped down from her role as national coach pending a separate investigation into allegations of improprieties, which she vigorously denies.

And last month fellow national coach Colin Still was also placed under investigation after Tinkler released a string of emails in which he appeared to allude to the Rio 2016 bronze medallist as a "fat dwarf".

British Gymnastics say they are in no rush to appoint a successor to Allen, and that an interim chief executive will be announced in due course.

PA

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