PJA calls for bans following rise in abuse of sportswomen on social media

The Professional Jockeys Association has called on platforms to ban abusers after an anonymous survey carried out by BBC Sport revealed 30 per cent of elite British sportswomen – including female jockeys – have been trolled, a figure that has doubled in five years.

The BBC Elite British Sportswomen's Survey was sent to 1,068 women in 39 different sports and received 537 responses, including 160 sportswomen who said they had been trolled on social media, a figure up to 30 per cent from 14 per cent in 2015.

A jockey anonymously revealed she had been told by a man after a fall that he "hoped the horse was okay and not you", adding that "a man should have been on it".

The "horrific abuse" was described as "threatening" and "scary" and PJA chief executive Paul Struthers reacted by saying: "We know social media abuse is a major issue for jockeys generally, and across sport. Some of the abuse jockeys receive is appalling, for anonymous male posters to abuse any female athlete in the way they do needs to be addressed. 

"We would encourage all of our members on the receiving end of any abuse to report it to us and the BHA, who can then advise on any additional action that could be required, including approaching the police.

"We would call on social media organisations to take this issue far more seriously than they do and ban any individual who abuses athletes this way."

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston told BBC Sport: "The past few years have seen fantastic progress with women's sport starting to get the profile it deserves.

"However, it is absolutely unacceptable that this visibility has been matched by a rise in online abuse of our sports stars.

"We have set out world-leading plans that will make online platforms safer for users, and we will continue to engage with providers to see what more can be done."

The survey highlighted other areas of concern, such as 65 per cent (347) have experienced sexism in their sport but only ten per cent (51) reported it.

A total of 78 per cent (416) are conscious of their body image and 60 per cent (321) said their performance was affected by their period or they had missed training/competition because of it – but 40 per cent (214) did not feel comfortable discussing their period with coaches.

Pregnancy was another major issue with 36 per cent (191) not feeling supported by their club/governing body to have a baby and continue to compete, while four per cent (22) have had an abortion because they felt a baby would impact their sporting career.