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All sport governing bodies should have duty of care guardian, says Grey-Thompson report

By Matthew Campelli    21 Apr 2017
Grey-Thompson said that medal success should 'not be at the cost of individuals involved' / David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

National governing bodies of sport should be required to have at least one named person dedicated to the duty of care of athletes or risk having their public funding cut, according to a wide-ranging report published by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

With the title of Duty of Care Guardian, the individual should sit on the board of the governing body and “engage with participants across the talent pathway and in community sport”.

A public statement from the Duty of Care Guardian should be included within each governing body’s annual report. The position should be mandatory, says the report.

The recommendation was one of many within the Duty of Care in Sport report, which has taken a year to produce.

Other recommendation include: the establishment of a Sports Ombudsman, to hold governing bodies to account over duty of care issues; measurement of duty of care performance indicators via an independent benchmark survey; an induction process for all participants entering elite-level sport; exit surveys for retiring athletes; and a government-funded British Athletes Commission.

Grey-Thompson has also suggested the creation of a Duty of Care Charter – to be established by government – which would “explicitly set out” how participants, coaches and support staff can expect to be treated and where they can go if they need support and guidance.

Aside from the seven priority recommendations, the report has laid out further recommendations related to separate themes, including education, athlete transition, representation, diversity, mental welfare and safeguarding.

The latter issue has come to the fore in recent months amid high profile sexual abuse allegations made by footballers, amateur and profession.

According to the report, government should review the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to include sports coaches within the definition ‘positions of trust’ and also investigate the process of background checks for self-employed providers.

In her introduction, Grey-Thompson said the report had been a “timely” one with the sport sector “under more scrutiny than ever before”.

Indeed, a day before the publication of the report (20 April), UK Sport was accused of failing in its duty of care to athletes amid allegations of bullying within some of the organisations it funds, including British Cycling and British Canoeing.

However, chief executive Liz Nicholl refuted the claims made by Julian Knight MP during a select committee hearing.

But Grey-Thompson suggested that “questions are being asked about the price being paid for success”, arguing that the “drive for success should not be at the cost of individuals involved”.

The iconic paralympian added: “I appreciate some of my recommendations will have resource implications. I am aware there is no new public money available to implement them and that organisations will have to prioritise.

“I have sought throughout the report to be proportionate and to consider in particular the burden placed on volunteer sport.”

Sports minister Tracey Crouch – who ordered the review as part of the government’s Sporting Future strategy – said duty of care was a “high priority” for the sport sector.

“I will be considering the recommendations relevant to my department and work with ministerial colleagues to ensure government as a whole looks at what more we can collectively do,” she added.

To read the full report, click here.

Tanni Grey-Thompson  duty of care  government 
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