British Gymnastics have banned coaches from weighing gymnasts, following the new British Gymnastics rules designed to stop harmful practices which states they are on the fringes of abuse.
The 2022 Whyte Review found “systemic” physical and emotional abuse in the sport “borne of inadequate practice”.
This included athletes having their bags searched for food in the “tyranny” of weight management.
“Weighing was used as a punishment,” former gymnast Eloise Jotischky said.
“In the past, because there were no policies relating to excessive and inappropriate weight management, often coaches were able to kind of exploit that and would use very harmful practice,” Jotischky told BBC Sport.
In June 2022, Jotischky became the first and to date the only gymnast to win a civil case against British Gymnastics for the abuse she experienced from coach Andrew Griffiths, with British Gymnastics admitting full liability and issuing an apology.
She alleges that between 2016 and 2018, she was left “physically exhausted” after being subjected to inappropriate weight management techniques by Griffiths, who is no longer permitted to coach.
“I think it’s a big step. It’s massive to have something concrete.” Jotischky said of the new policies.
Under the new rules which are now policies instead of guidelines, no gymnasts aged 10 or under can be weighed. Those above that threshold can only be weighed with the consent of both the gymnast and their parent or guardian, if aged under 18.
The safeguarding rules also say only sports science or medical practitioners are allowed to do the weighing, with “scientifically valid rationale” being the reason for it.
That means weighing must only be undertaken to monitor whether an athlete is undergoing a growth spurt, for example, or to work out the optimum strength and conditioning exercises for their body.
British Gymnastics says “The policy has been introduced “to prevent inappropriate practices and prevent potential areas of concern around weighing, due to some of the related psychological distress and risks of the development of mental health problems such as eating disorders/disordered eating, anxiety, and depression
“Inappropriate or excessive weighing of gymnasts is an example of poor practice which may be on the fringe of abuse, and if/or repeated could amount to abuse”