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Sir Bradley Wiggins calls for action on child abuse in sport

In April, Wiggins revealed he was groomed by a coach as a teenager, something he says he "buried" during his career...

Sir Bradley Wiggins has backed a new NSPCC safety initiative to better protect children from abuse in sport, saying it must be made easier for "all people in sport" to recognise issues.

The 2012 Tour de France champion and five-time Olympic gold medallist earlier this year revealed he was groomed by a coach as a teenager, and said he "never fully accepted" it and "buried it" during his sporting career.

Now, the 42-year-old is urging coaches, parents and "all people in sport" to back the NSPCC's new Keeping Your Child Safe in Sport Week campaign.

The children's charity launched the campaign with a poll of 1,000 parents which suggested 15 per cent of respondents did not feel confident they could spot the signs of their child suffering abuse at their local sports club.

Calls to the NSPCC's helpline mentioning concern about a sports setting have almost doubled in the last five years, rising from 155 to 301 between 2017 and 2022, with Wiggins hoping the charity's latest campaign can combat the issue.

"We must make sport safe for children and make it easier for parents — and all people in sport — to recognise and understand how they themselves can support a safer sports environment," Wiggins said.

British Cycling offered Wiggins "full support" after he went public with allegations of grooming in a Men's Health UK magazine interview in the spring.

"I was groomed by a coach when I was younger – I was about 13 – and I never fully accepted that... It all impacted me as an adult… I buried it," Wiggins explained.

Following the interview, British Cycling's safeguarding team contacted the 12-time world champion and encouraged anybody who has suffered abuse or has concerns about the welfare of others to utilise the support offered by themselves and the NSPCC.

"It takes a lot of courage to speak out about sexual abuse and Sir Bradley Wiggins has shown real bravery in revealing how he was groomed as a young cyclist by his coach who should have been protecting him," Michelle North from the NSPCC said.

"Sports coaches hold a great deal of power and influence over the children in their care and can all too easily exploit this trust to groom and abuse them. It's common for victims to feel guilt and shame or to even be unaware that they are being abused and some may not come to accept it until decades later but nonetheless the impact can be devastating and long lasting."

The Football Association and former Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Liverpool player Paul Stewart are also backing the charity's campaign. Stewart now campaigns on the issue after revealing he was sexually abused by a football coach as a child, and said it is "absolutely vital that safeguarding is a top priority in children's sport".

"Every child should be able to enjoy sport without the risk of abuse," he said.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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