Sports administrators accused of ‘ignoring’ safeguarding recommendations from 2017 Government report

Posted: 22nd April 2022

Sports administrators have been accused of “ignoring” recommendations in a 2017 Government report on safeguarding.

An athlete-led advocacy group said there had been “paltry progress” since Baroness Grey-Thompson’s ‘Duty of Care in Sport Review’.

Kyniska Advocacy have called for “urgent” Government action.

The ‘Stamping Out Sexual Violence in Sport’ policy report calls for “new policies and structures to better safeguard and protect all athletes”.

The group, set up by athletes Mhairi Maclennan and Kate Seary, have sent the report to Sport England, Sport Scotland, Sport Wales, Sport Northern Ireland, UK Sport and the sports minister Nigel Huddleston.

The report said: “People with lived experience of sexual violence face significant barriers to reporting. Neither organisations nor individuals in sport have a duty to report suspicions, allegations, or evidence of sexual violence. There is no systematic data collection and the little data in existence is not shared between sports.”

The report called for the creation of an independent body for safeguarding, which the authors said should be both “proactive and reactive” in tackling abuse, mandatory reporting of sexual abuse and misconduct, and a national register of licensed coaches.

The report noted: “As it stands, a coach found guilty of sexual violence may receive a lifetime ban from one [national governing body] , but there is no centralised licensing scheme to ban them from all sports.”

It added: “For the most part, National Governing Bodies are responsible for both organising and regulating their sport. We believe this creates inherent conflicts of interests.”

Last year Maclennan and Seary set up a petition to UK Athletics, which was signed by nearly 2,000 people, calling for zero-tolerance life bans for abusive coaches.

This was later backed by the governing body’s then chief executive, Joanna Coates, and a historic review of safeguarding cases was launched.

Currently UK Athletics is dealing with 57 live safeguarding cases and there are 20 athletics coaches suspended.

A spokesperson at Kyniska Advocacy said: “This report, written by individuals with lived experience of sexual violence in sport, calls for urgent action from the UK’s governments and Sports Councils to improve current policies and structures. It should not matter what sport you practice, or where in the UK you live; all sportspeople at all levels deserve robust protection and support”.

UK Sport said they welcome any report which “contributes to improving the welfare and wellbeing of athletes”.

“It is the responsibility of UK Sport to support and promote the highest standards of ethics and integrity from the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community. It is fundamental to our strategic mission,” a UK Sport spokesperson said.

“We welcome the report and its ambitions to create a better culture of safeguarding,” Sport England said. “We are already in active discussions with a range of organisations around what the future of safeguarding in sport looks like, as we recognise that no organisation can achieve optimal safeguarding practice on their own.”

Sport Wales said “there is still work to be done” in relation to safeguarding and that they welcomed any insight from the report.

“We will be looking seriously at the findings and recommendations as part of our ongoing efforts to improve wellbeing for all of those taking part in sport,” a Sport Wales spokesperson said.

A spokesperson from Sport NI said: “We welcome all views that seek to enhance the wellbeing and welfare of athletes and the enjoyment of sport at all levels and will review the recommendations within this report.”


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