The coach at the centre of the British para-swimming team bullying scandal, Rob Greenwood, could be stripped of an award.
UK Coaching, the British agency for sports coaches, would not comment publicly on Greenwood but talks are ongoing about the 2016 High Performance Coach of the Year prize he shared with British Gymnastics’ head coach, Eddie van Hoof.
The results of an independent investigation into the Manchester-based squad run by Greenwood until February this year were revealed by British Swimming on Wednesday night.
Without naming Greenwood, it found an unnamed senior coach had used “abusive and derogatory” language towards athletes, some of them children, and had created a “climate of fear”.
The claims first surfaced last December, the same month Greenwood received his UK Coaching award, and were referred to swimming’s national governing body by the British Athletes Commission (BAC), which represents the interests of Olympians and Paralympians.
Para-swimming was ParalympicsGB’s most successful sport at the Rio 2016 Games, the squad winning 47 medals including 16 golds, but British Swimming has now removed a story about Greenwood’s coaching award from its website.
A second member of staff, understood to be the performance director, Chris Furber, who is still in his role at British Swimming, has also been disciplined for a “failure to ensure management control” and a “lack of empathy” towards athletes. He was not accused of verbal abuse.
The investigation was led by two former police officers and involved interviews with 13 athletes, many of whom are still members of the British squad, and 10 members of staff.
In a statement, UK Coaching said it has the “highest regard for the welfare of both athlete and coach and considers this an absolute priority”.
It pointed to its code of practice for sports coaches as an example of its work, saying coaches who abide by the code “will create healthy, positive environments for participants to thrive in”.
Both Greenwood and Furber declined to comment when the result of the investigation was announced on Wednesday night.
This year’s awards ceremony will be held in London on 30 November and the organisation has added David Lavalle, the first professor of duty of care in sport, to its judging panel and the BAC will also be consulted “to ensure the athletes’ voice is heard”.
The UK Coaching chief executive, Mark Gannon, said: “Coaching can transform lives and the benefits go much wider than learning or honing skills in sport and physical activity.
“The need for coaches to understand and act on their responsibilities is vital, as is the need to promote participation for fun and enjoyment.
“We will continue to promote the hugely positive benefits the vast majority of coaches deliver to millions of people across the UK.”