Statement: Whyte Review Response

By Dr Natasha Jones, President FSEM, 17 Jun, 2022 | 2 min read

A Statement from the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK)

Yesterday saw the publication of the Whyte Review, commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England in response to distressing reports concerning the treatment of gymnasts.

The experiences described in the report are deeply disturbing. Sport should be an enjoyable and enriching experience, with absolutely no place for the types of abusive behaviour described in the report. We are grateful to the courageous athletes who shared their stories, and hope that this will be a catalyst for lasting change.

While the report undoubtedly makes uncomfortable reading, we welcome its findings and trust that its recommendations will be fully implemented by the relevant governing bodies. Moreover, we would urge all sporting governing bodies to carefully consider the report’s findings in the context of their own sport, to ensure that no athlete, at any level, is subject to such abuse again.

We encourage all our members, fellows and other practitioners working in sport to reflect on this review. We recommend that all Sports Medicine and Sports Science practitioners working in sport should read the review in full. It details the struggles practitioners have in influencing culture within the sport. Every practitioner should reflect on how they could approach such issues within their own environments.

As healthcare professionals it is our duty to act always in the best interests of our patients – in this case, the athletes. The Faculty’s Professional Code provides clear guidance in this regard. In particular it focuses on our responsibilities regarding raising concerns on athlete safety, training regimes, equipment and environments which may have a significant adverse effect on the short or long term health or wellbeing of the athlete. It also sets out clear responsibilities regarding safeguarding of young and vulnerable athletes in line with the GMC’s guidelines on good medical practice. We would urge all healthcare professionals working in sport to abide by its principles at all times.

In addition, in the light of this report and other significant events, we are reviewing our role in supporting medical practitioners working in elite sport especially in relation to standard setting, training, appraisal and revalidation.

The failures outlined in this report can and must be a call to action for everyone involved in sport, from grassroots to professional level. We must work to build a culture where there is no place for abusive behaviour, and where the health and wellbeing of the athlete is always the first consideration.

Dr Natasha Jones MB., BS(lond), FFSEM, FRCP

President of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK)