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Gymnastics crisis shows why athletes need a union fighting their corner | Sean Ingle

An independent union wouldn’t only combat well-publicised issues in British sport – it would also give athletes a voice and ensure greater transparency

Will the last Olympic sport in Britain free from bullying, sexism or racism allegations – or, indeed, disgruntled athletes – please turn out the lights? The question is especially pertinent given British Gymnastics has now joined the lengthy roll call of sporting bodies accused of allowing “a culture of fear”, with athletes and coaches afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.

How many times must we hear that F-word before we accept that it is not just the odd snowflake who cannot handle the rough and tumble of elite sport? And, then, will we actually pledge to do something about it? With each fresh revelation we see two things with greater clarity: that the system for representing and protecting athletes is not fit for purpose; and, now more than ever, a powerful and independent union for Olympic athletes is urgently needed.

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