British Gymnastics to step aside from review into allegations of bullying

File photo dated 27-06-2019 of An Artistic Gymnast prepares to compete on the Pommel Horse.
Great Britain's Brinn Bevan prepares for the Pommel Horse element of the Artistic Gymnastics. Credit: PA

British Gymnastics has announced its decision to step aside and allow UK Sport and Sport England to co-commission the Independent Review into allegations of bullying and abuse within the sport.

The move comes after criticism that the integrity of the review, which was announced by British Gymnastics last week, could be compromised by the governing body’s involvement.

Amy Tinkler filed a complaint about her experience to British Gymnastics.

British Gymnastics said in a statement: “At a board meeting on Tuesday night, British Gymnastics made the decision to step aside to allow UK Sport and Sport England to co-commission the Independent Review it first established following concerns raised by British gymnasts about mistreatment.

“British Gymnastics originally announced the commissioning of a QC led Independent Review last week.

"However, to remove any doubt of the review’s integrity or independence, British Gymnastics has asked that UK Sport and Sport England now co-commission it.”

ITV News has reported shocking examples of bullying, and abuse - physical and emotional - at the heart of British gymnastics in recent days, which prompted the body to pledge a review.

An increasing number of gymnasts, including world championship medallists Becky and Ellie Downie, coming forward to reveal a toxic culture within the sport.

British Gymnastics coach Craig Lowther, who is accused of bullying.

The alarming accusations stem from the mistreatment of young children, with one eight-year-old gymnast describing how she was tied to bars and bullied by her coaches at the age of just seven.

Rio 2016 bronze medallist Amy Tinkler revealed on Monday that her decision to retire from the sport had been partly instigated by British Gymnastics’ failure to sufficiently deal with a complaint she lodged more than eight months ago.

British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen said: “It is vital the review is unequivocally independent with full resources to effectively deal with concerns raised by gymnasts.

“In the past week, the complexities have increased, and it is clear to retain the trust of the gymnastics community we have decided to recuse ourselves from any management of the review.

“Our priority is to learn the lessons and ensure the welfare of all those within gymnastics. By stepping aside, we hope the review can now proceed unimpeded.”

In a joint statement of their own, UK Sport and Sport England said they “welcome and support the decision of British Gymnastics to step aside from the review”.

The statement added: “We are working closely with key stakeholders, including the British Athletes Commission (BAC) and the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU), to develop the terms of reference and the structure of the review to ensure it has credibility and the confidence of all of those who have had the courage to come forward.”