WARNING: This article contains distressing details.

A leading gymnastics coach was pulled from Great Britain’s coaching squad just weeks before the Tokyo Olympics after a serious allegation was made against her, BBC Sport has learned.

At the time, Liz Kincaid’s retirement from the sport was given as the official reason for her withdrawal.

However, British Gymnastics had removed her from the team after an allegation was made about the mental health of one of her former gymnasts.

An investigation was launched but British Gymnastics had received other complaints about Kincaid almost a year earlier. Kincaid strongly denies all the allegations.

British Gymnastics said the British Olympic Association’s rules state no-one with “any unresolved ongoing complaints about them” could attend the Games.

A wider independent investigation into allegations of abuse within British gymnastics is ongoing, after a number of current and former gymnasts alleged mistreatment at all levels of the sport in 2020.

The final report of the independent review, led by Anne Whyte QC and co-commissioned by Sport England and UK Sport, is due to be published at the end of May.

‘Doctors were so concerned’

BBC Sport has spoken to two of Kincaid’s former gymnasts, who have made further allegations of serious injury mismanagement and mistreatment by their ex-coach.

At the age of 12, former Welsh gymnast Poppy Wynn – now 25 – tore her perineum after landing in oversplits after a missed catch on the bars. She was not being monitored by a coach.

“I went to Liz, I had blood dripping down my leg and she then took me into the office and gave me sanitary pads to effectively mop up the blood and then sent me back into the gym,” Wynn told BBC Sport’s Natalie Pirks.

Kincaid allegedly told Wynn’s mother that she had apparently started her period during training.

Her mother later looked at her daughter’s injury and said what she saw looked “worse than childbirth”, immediately taking Wynn to hospital where “concerned” doctors admitted her overnight and referred her to gynecologists.

Wynn said she also trained on a broken hand for six weeks, while Sophie Jameson – a three-time British champion – remembers training on a broken ankle, taken out of its cast too early at Kincaid’s request, and other mismanaged injuries followed.

“I dislocated my knee on beam. I look down and I remember just screaming in the gym. It was a quite horrific experience,” said Jameson, also now 25.

“I was in a big knee brace. She wanted me to carry on upper body training, swinging on bars and stuff. Your legs do have to come up and I just remember that being absolutely excruciating.”

Both Wynn and Jameson also allege that Kincaid spoke to them in a way that made them feel “less than human”, as well as “shouting in their faces” and weight-shaming gymnasts.

Liz Kincaid
Liz Kincaid before the Rio 2016 Olympics

Jameson previously spoke to BBC Sport in August 2020saying she now suffers from anxiety and developed an eating disorder as a result of her experiences in gymnastics.

Three of Kincaid’s gymnasts have competed at the Olympics, including Amelie Morgan, who in Tokyo helped Britain’s women win their first Olympic gymnastics team medal since 1928 with bronze.

Kincaid denies all claims against her and told BBC Sport: “The health, well-being and safety of the gymnasts under my care and tuition was of paramount importance to me and a matter close to my heart. To suggest I would mistreat the gymnasts goes against every principle I live by and is very upsetting.”

British Gymnastics told the BBC it will embark on a program of reform after next month’s independent review looking into abuse in the sport and added it is “determined to learn from all those who have bravely come forward and raised concerns”.

The governing body said: “We are deeply sorry to those who have had a poor experience in our sport where we have fallen short.”

Both Wynn and Jameson are part of a civil claim against British Gymnastics. Jameson said: “You need to take these investigations a lot more seriously and speed up the process because I see no change.

“[Kincaid] is still very capable of walking into a gym and coaching, and right now I really don’t think she should be.”

Wynn added: “She can come back from retirement. What if she goes to America? There’s lots of avenues she can take to still coach.”

Abuse in gymnastics – what’s the background?

Since August 2020BBC Sport has revealed a series of stories of former and current gymnasts alleging mistreatment at all levels of the sport – including Olympic medal-winning gymnasts amy tinker and nile wilsonplus Olympians Becky and Ellie Downie.

As well as the ongoing independent review – which received information from almost 400 people – British Gymnastics is also the subject of a legal claim raised by 37 former athletes who say they were victims of alleged systemic physical and psychological abuse.

A support helpline set up for gymnasts by the British Athletes Commission and the NSPCC received more than 120 calls in its first five weeks.

In August 2020, British Gymnastics’ national head coach Amanda Reddin stepped aside While an investigation into claims about her conduct took place, while a number of coaches were suspended.

A year later, British Gymnastics chairman Mike Darcey apologized to the gymnastics community for failing to act on allegations of mistreatment within the sport.

The governing body’s former chief executive, Jane Allen, retired in December 2020 despite the ongoing investigation. Her successor, Sarah Powellsaid she was “under no illusions about the scale of change needed” to improve the culture at the organisation.

If you have been affected by issues raised in this article, there is information and support available on BBC ActionLine.



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