The double world medallist gymnast Ellie Downie has expressed her frustration after her complaint about being weight-shamed when she was a teenager was not upheld.
Downie had made the complaint on social media earlier in the summer, saying that she was constantly told to lose weight and that she could “vividly recall being told as a young teenager at a national camp to lose 6kg in two weeks or ‘there would be consequences’.”
The 21-year-old also said a nutritionist had told her to provide food diaries of everything that “entered my mouth and send daily pictures of me in my underwear to ensure I wasn’t lying.” However, the English Institute of Sport (EIS) said it had not upheld the complaint following a full review.
In a statement to ITV News confirming that the complaint had not been proven, EIS said: “All relevant individuals were interviewed by a senior EIS member of staff and the subsequent report was submitted for a full review to an external independent investigator. The conclusion from this process is that the complaint was not upheld.”
Speaking on social media following the announcement, Downie said: “I’ve not done this to satisfy myself. This is to stop it happening to all those young gymnasts out there. Yes sometimes you may need nutritional help to improve your performance, but that’s not what this was! And it can’t continue. But honestly this is why we haven’t spoken before.”
Downie was supported by her sister and fellow Olympian, Becky Downie, who said that the “obsession [with] trying to keep gymnasts the size of a prepubescent child” was “extremely damaging and unrealistic”.
“Ellie sat and cried to me wanting to quit the sport because she didn’t feel like she fit in because of her body anymore,” Becky Downie tweeted. “Her body enabled her to do what every other female British gymnast hadn’t been able to do. She wouldn’t be GB’s first ever vault world medalist without it!”
Another Rio 2016 Olympian, Ruby Harrold, also expressed her unhappiness. “Why is our cry for help for the continued improvement of the sport not enough?” she said. “I am hurting for my teammates who feel failed by those who we assumed would protect us. I feel nothing but utter disappointment in the system.”