Gymnastics abuse: Eloise Jotischky is the first person to win a civil suit against British Gymnastics.

Eloise Jotischky

Eloise Jotischky says she gave up acrobatic gymnastics following her experiences in the sport

WARNING: This article contains distressing details.

A former elite acrobatic gymnast has become the first to win a civil action against British Gymnastics over the abuse she suffered in sport.

Eloise Jotischky says Andrew Griffiths subjected her to inappropriate weight management techniques and verbal harassment when he coached her at Heathrow Gymnastics Club.

British Gymnastics has admitted full responsibility. He reached a settlement and Jotischky received a full apology from the governing body’s chief executive.

However, after Jotischky received a letter confirming the British Gymnastics admission of liability in March, Griffiths traveled to the World Acrobatics Championships as Britain’s coach.

British Gymnastics told BBC Sport he had since canceled his membership of the governing body and was therefore not allowed to coach, while Heathrow said he no longer worked for them.

Griffiths previously served a suspension from British Gymnastics for improper practices before coaching Jotischky, but was cleared to return to the sport shortly after appealing.

BBC Sport contacted him numerous times but he did not respond.

It comes as an independent investigation into allegations of abuse within British gymnastics prepares to deliver its findings.

A number of current and former gymnasts have alleged mistreatment at all levels of the sport in 2020.

The Whyte report, led by Anne Whyte QC and co-commissioned by Sport England and UK Sport, is expected to be published shortly.

Andrew Griffiths
Andrew Griffiths coached the winners of Britain’s Got Talent 2010 Spelbound

Jotischky, now 19, was at Heathrow between the ages of 10 and 14, training 25 hours a week as an acrobatic gymnast. She competed nationally and internationally, but has since given up on the sport, she says following her experiences.

She alleges that between 2016 and 2018, she was “physically exhausted” after being subjected to inappropriate weight management techniques by Griffiths, who put her on a diet of around 800 calories for a day without training and… 1,200 calories during a workout. daytime. The The NHS recommends teenage girls should consume between 2,200 and 2,500 calories a day.

Griffiths, she said, would frequently “weight-shame” and physically push her, telling her she “looked terrible”.

When she was 12, she weighed 46 kg (7th 3 lbs) but alleges Griffiths decided she needed to lose 5 kg (11 lbs).

“Weigh-in sessions could be more than once a week,” Jotischky told BBC Sport’s Natalie Pirks. “It was every Saturday, but sometimes we were also weighed during the week if they didn’t like how we looked.

“We had to line up and step on the scale with everyone there, and sometimes they would announce our weight or tell us to step aside if they weren’t happy with our weight so they could have a conversation with us afterwards.”

This would make Jotischky so “incredibly anxious” that towards the end of each week, her stress level would make her sick. She limited her water intake and sat in “boiling” baths to try to lose weight quickly.

She alleges Griffiths would “scream and scream” at her and other gymnasts if he didn’t approve of their weight.

“We were sitting on the couch physically shaking. Having a grown man yelling at you was terrifying,” she said.

“I think being scared of that then contributed to my routine on a Friday night taking hot baths because I was so terrified of what was to come, the consequences of not losing weight.”

However, Jotischky says Griffiths’ treatment of male gymnasts was different – he would buy them fast food, which he would tell them to eat in front of the female gymnasts.

In a statement to BBC Sport, British Gymnastics said “there is no room for abuse of any kind in gymnastics”, adding that they had recently doubled the size of their backup squad.

Heathrow Gymnastics Club said: “Andrew Griffiths no longer works for Heathrow Gymnastics Club. The club has 60 coaches and 1,100 children who happily participate in many gymnastics disciplines.”

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, information and support is available at BBC Action Line.

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