Former Phil Banning-coached athlete calls on governing body to open an inquiry following Banning’s conviction for abusing young athletes
Welsh indoor 1500m champion Kate Seary has written an open letter to Welsh Athletics, calling for an inquiry and further support from the governing body following the conviction of her former coach, Phil Banning, who was jailed last year for abusing young athletes.
Banning was a former director of coaching for Wales and following his appearance in court, Welsh Athletics stated that while the conviction did not relate to his time working as a coach in Wales, the governing body encouraged anyone with any concerns or further information to contact the NSPCC.
Seary believes that since then, what Welsh Athletics has done has not been enough.
“I’m struggling because the man that I considered another Father figure is not the person I thought I knew,” Seary wrote.
“I’m struggling because a decade of my own athletic success has been tarnished. I’m struggling because I worry that others out there are struggling, are victims of abuse, and others haven’t got the support they need. Mostly, I’m struggling because no one asked if I am okay. I’m not. And I’m not the only one.”
— KateSeary (@KateSeary) April 14, 2020
She added, in part: “For the record, I never experienced any ill-treatment from Philip Banning over the decade that he was my coach. To me, Phil was a devoted coach, and in my eyes was responsible for my successful career as a young athlete. The issue here, is no one from Welsh Athletics has approached me or any of my fellow athletes also coached by Banning, to my knowledge, to ask if this is the case.
“Philip Banning was a Welsh Athletics accredited coach with countless Welsh affiliated young athletes. It is the duty of Welsh Athletics, not only to support their athletes, but to protect them. I believe, in this case, that they have failed in these duties.
“I now call for Welsh Athletics to open an inquiry to investigate any possible further abuse and support all athletes who were coached by Phil Banning and put in place a system of support for any athlete that may feel that they need it.”
Seary, who wrote about having suffered with “periods of debilitating anxiety” since Banning’s conviction, says she does not blame any individuals at Welsh Athletics, but believes it is “a case of major oversight by the organisation which has left young athletes vulnerable”.
Welsh Athletics was contacted by AW for a response and a statement on the governing body’s website reads: “Welsh Athletics is aware of concerns regarding how it has supported athletes who have previously been coached by Phil Banning. To reiterate our comment on the 12th of August 2019, we encourage any athletes, coach, parent who has any concerns or further information to contact the NSPCC on their 24-hour helpline 0808 800 5000.
“The welfare of our athletes and those who support them, is paramount to Welsh Athletics, and we are committed to supporting our members in any way we can, we would request that any requirement for support be submitted via email to [email protected] and we will ensure specific support is made available.
“Welsh Athletics would like to reinforce its commitment to safeguarding and duty of care to its members. We will continue to work with UK Athletics, the Child Protection in Sport Unit and our member clubs to ensure that the sport remains safe for all who participate and that all its members feel supported at all times.”
Following publication of her letter, Seary told AW that she had heard from Welsh Athletics, who plan to take further action.
“Welsh Athletics have been in contact and are planning to take further action starting with a meeting with myself to discuss my concerns and to discuss how athletes can be supported going forward,” she said.
“They seem to have taken the issue seriously and are keen to take action.”
Last August Banning pleaded guilty to 18 counts of indecent assault relating to four girls who were under the age of 16 at the time of the offences, which took place during the 1970s and 1980s in Andover.
He was jailed for seven and a half years.