A major independent report into athlete welfare in British sport featuring a series of recommendations for improving standards has been published.
The report, entitled ‘Duty of Care in Sport’, is the result of a review conducted by Paralympic great Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson for the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The past year has seen allegations of bullying made against coaches in British Cycling and British Swimming hit the headlines, as well as an abuse scandal in football.
Published on Friday, Baroness Grey-Thompson’s report lists seven ‘priority recommendations’.
It says the Government should create a Sports Ombudsman, measure duty of care via an independent benchmark survey, establish a duty of care charter, and independently fund the British Athletes Commission (BAC).
The other priority recommendations are that all national governing body boards should have a named member responsible for duty of care, that an induction process should be carried out for all people entering elite levels of sport, and that there should be independent exit interviews conducted as people leave formal programmes.
There is then a more detailed list of recommendations under seven different themes, which include ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’, ‘safeguarding’, ‘mental welfare’ and ‘safety, injury and medical issues’.
Under ‘safeguarding’, it is recommended that the Government considers introducing a ‘Duty to Report’ in all sports organisations – mandatory reporting of any abuse or suspected abuse.
In her introduction, Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “Recent media reports and anecdotal evidence from across a range of sports has led to questions about whether welfare and safety really are being given the priority they deserve.
“At a time of success for British sport in terms of medals, championships and profile, this raises challenging questions about whether the current balance between welfare and winning is right and what we are prepared to accept as a nation.
“It feels timely for the sport sector to consider duty of care in its fullest sense. The sector is arguably under more scrutiny than ever before, with allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse in football, and accusations of a culture of bullying in some sports.
“Questions are being asked about the price being paid for success. It is clear that the drive for success and desire to win should not be at the cost of the individuals involved.
“Allegations about the past need to be thoroughly investigated, but the focus must also remain on those in the current system to ensure they are protected and free from harm, bullying, harassment and discrimination.”
Giving her reaction to the report, sports minister Tracey Crouch said: “I welcome the contribution this comprehensive report makes to the debate about the welfare and wellbeing of participants in sport at all levels.
“I will be considering the recommendations relevant to my department and work with my ministerial colleagues to ensure the Government as a whole looks at what more we can collectively do.”