February 23, 2018 / 11:35 AM / a year ago

Gymnastics - Van Hoof left shocked after British Gymnastics axe

LONDON (Reuters) - British Gymnastics’ sacked head national coach Eddie van Hoof said he was left shocked and dismayed after being dismissed by the organisation on Thursday.

The Yorkshireman, voted the UK Coach of the Year in 2016 after Britain’s men won five gymnastics medals at the Rio Olympics, had spent more than 10 years with the team.

Van Hoof had been suspended from his role since November, pending an investigation into alleged misconduct, and a statement from British Gymnastics cited ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the reason for his departure.

The allegations against van Hoof have not been made public but his sacking came three weeks after British Gymnastics’ chief executive Jane Allen published an open letter denying a ‘win at any cost’ mentality within the sport’s elite structure.

Allen’s letter followed media reports of contractual rows involving leading gymnasts and claims of misconduct by unspecified coaches.

Van Hoof said he had not been allowed to read the full contents of the report.

“Since my suspension in November 2017, British Gymnastics has appointed a barrister to conduct an independent investigation,” he said in a statement.

“Sadly, British Gymnastics has chosen not to share the report with me, which is regrettable as it would have allowed greater transparency and clarity around the issue.

“I have only seen a short overview, which in no way matches my recollection of my contribution to British Gymnastics.”

Van Hoof, who was seen as the catalyst in transforming the sport in Britain from no-hopers to Olympic medal contenders, was awarded an MBE for long term service to gymnastics in 2016.

Describing his sacking as a “crushing blow” Van Hoof alluded to his objections to the new World Class Performance Athlete Agreements as a reason for his fall-out with British Gymnastics.

“I stand by my support of our athletes on the issue of contracts, and I stand by my own conduct and professionalism during my time with British Gymnastics,” he said.

“The news of my dismissal today is unexpected, undeserved and comes as a crushing blow after so many years of unwavering dedication.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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