Pole vaulter Anna Gordon says abuse procedures must change to support accusers

Gordon accused a coach of sexual abuse but he was found not guilty (PA Images)
14:22pm, Tue 08 Oct 2019
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Scottish pole vaulter Anna Gordon has hit out at abuse procedures claiming those who make accusations should be better supported.

Gordon accused a coach of sexual abuse in 2013, but after a nine-month trial he was found not guilty.

But her decision to speak out meant she was shunned by other  athletes and subjected to abusive messages.

Gordon said: "People I used to say, 'hi' to at the track, they wouldn't look at me.

"Getting to competitions, I would be told that I didn't deserve to compete. Parent helpers would come over in the middle of training sessions and say things like, 'We know what you've done'. Usually I'd wake up to horrible messages, names I didn't know."

An athlete who Gordon looked up to blocked her on social media which led to her being hospitalised.

"[Being blocked] took some of the hope that things would get better out of it. After that, things got much more difficult to manage. I was admitted to hospital with neurological problems brought on by extreme stress," she told BBC Scotland.

Gordon says better support would help athletes not only in the wake of making accusations but would encourage them to come forward.

 "There's a bridge that's missing and nobody's really acknowledging it or addressing it. And it's between when something happens and someone being able to say something.

"In UK athletics, when a coach is the subject of abuse allegations, their coaching licence is immediately revoked. A great idea would be to bring in replacement coaching so that people aren't negatively affected.

"It would also take a lot of blame off the person who has said something."

Gordon is hoping Scottish Athletics will adapt their procedures in the light of her experience.

"It's obviously not the easiest decision to do something like this, come out and speak about [abuse], you never really want to be that person, but I think to be honest it's so much more important that we put these new things in place to move forward."

Scottish Athletics chief executive Mark Munro said: "It is absolutely vital that the message to everyone in the sport is very clear. Athletics is a fantastic sport, abuse will not be tolerated and we will seek to support anyone who raises an issue or makes a disclosure of abuse."