Vulnerability of Adult Elite Athletes

Why are elite athletes considered a group who are at increased risk of harm and abuse?

Over the last 5 years, there have been increasing reports, allegations, criminal convictions and media coverage of abuse, bullying, harassment and misconduct in the elite sporting world.

Reports of cultures where athletes feared speaking up, or serious complaints dismissed and brushed under the carpet and inappropriate behaviour ignored.

Some very high profile and world renowned coaches, mentors and professional practitioners have been accused and convicted of inappropriate and illegal behaviour which, in some cases, spanned decades and affected many.

Abuse within sport is sadly not new, however as a result of some high-profile cases and increased media coverage, there is an ever-increasing awareness of the need to safeguard athletes in elite sport, regardless of age.

The following guidance is based upon the vulnerability of adult elite athletes. Much of the information is applicable to both children and adults involved in elite sport. However, there will be additional vulnerabilities specific to child elite athletes which are not included. For further information relating to child elite athletes visit

Download the Elite Athlete Vulnerability Guidance


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