London (AFP)

Nile Wilson, bronze medalist on high bar at the 2016 Rio Olympics, says British gymnasts are "treated like chunks of meat" because of the "culture of abuse" that exists in the sport.

"Gymnasts are still, in my opinion, treated like pieces of meat (...) I would absolutely describe this as a culture of abuse, and I lived and breathed it for 20 years," said the champion of 24 years at the BBC Monday.

“It's emotional manipulation, being pushed by physical pain is definitely something I've been through. I would say I was mistreated. But we wanted to win Olympic medals - the governing body wanted to win medals. Olympic, coaches wanted to win Olympic medals - "said the gymnast.

Earlier this year, Wilson filed a complaint after an altercation with an executive at a party at his Leeds gymnastics club. After an internal club investigation, it was rejected.

"I was told, and felt, that I was the problem. I felt like I was not being heard and that I was wrong," Wilson said.

Leeds Gymnastics Club said it disputed the champion's version of events, according to the BBC, and the allegations were subject to a "professional" and "solid" investigation, the result of which has been independently verified.

Wilson has since left the club in his hometown and has revealed that he fears airing his grievances will cost him a seat at the Tokyo Games next year. “If I express my concern it may jeopardize my selection for the Olympics. I'm afraid to speak with you. The reason I'm speaking is that my incident this year highlights that there are still a lot of things to change in gymnastics and that it starts at the top ".

At the end of July, Amy Tinkler, bronze medalist on floor in Rio, had for her part criticized the British federation for the slowness of its investigation after a complaint for harassment filed by the gymnast in December 2019.

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