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Our history

The then-British Athletes Commission formed in 2004 by athletes, for athletes, to represent the views of all British athletes and to ensure welfare and wellbeing was central to all decision-making in high-performance sport.

An independent body, the organisation provided a mechanism for British athletes to access independent support across a range of issues, and to help athletes set up and maintain representative structures within their sport. 

While this early part of the BEAA’s history coincided with success on the medal tables for Great Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians, the issue of athlete welfare – and its relative prioritisation alongside medal success – came to the fore again in 2016, as allegations of cultural mismanagement across a number of sports emerged.

Following an independent UK Sport review into athlete voice and representation across the system, the BEAA received greater investment as a key organisation to help British sport win ‘the right way’. 

Increased funding enabled the organisation to grow in size, handle larger levels of case work and play an increasingly significant role in the high-performance system. 

When allegations of abuse and mistreatment within British gymnastics began to surface in 2020, the BEAA stepped in to both campaign for an independent review, and – funded by UK Sport and Sport England – establish a thorough and comprehensive mechanism through which those affected by mistreatment could share their experience and access appropriate support.

This work was highlighted in the Whyte Review – the independent review commissioned to investigate the allegations – which made a number of recommendations regarding necessary changes to sporting culture in this country.

In summer 2022 the British Athletes Commission rebranded to the British Elite Athletes Association following the appointment of CEO Anna Watkins.

Today the BEAA continues to strive to represent the athlete voice, support British athletes, and provide world-leading advice to help them thrive within their careers and lives. 

“I know from experience the determination which exists within the BEAA to make positive change happen. It’s exciting to see the organisation develop in a way which will further benefit British athletes.”

Kristian Thomas

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