Amy Tinkler retired earlier this year after making a formal complaint to British Gymnastics about misconduct ©Getty Images

British Gymnastics has announced it will no longer be affiliated with the independent review into bullying and abuse allegations made by numerous gymnasts.

The national governing body for the sport initially set a panel up to investigate the claims made by some top athletes including sisters Becky and Ellie Downie.

Olympic bronze medallist Amy Tinkler, who retired in January at the age of 20, earlier this week revealed that she quit the sport not due to injury, but after she made a formal complaint about abuse.

Jane Mulcahy QC was originally due to conduct the review, but it will now be co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England.

British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen welcomed the move to keep the governing body separate from the review ©British Gymnastics
British Gymnastics chief executive Jane Allen welcomed the move to keep the governing body separate from the review ©British Gymnastics

In a statement, Jane Allen, chief executive of British Gymnastics, 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."

Many allegations of mistreatment of athletes were made against coaches and personnel.

Sydney 2000 Olympian Lisa Mason said she was forced to train until her hands bled, while 24-year-old former gymnast Nicole Pavier said she developed bulimia, an eating disorder, at the age of 14 which led to her retirement just three years later.

Mason said coaches would put artificial grass under the bars so that gymnasts would burn their feet if they didn't keep them up, while Pavier said she would be weighed twice a day.

She alleged that her coach would "discuss people's weights in front of the whole group", in an interview with the BBC.

Mark England, the British Olympic Association Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020, said he was "saddened" by the news of Tinkler's retirement.

England has a long history in the sport and was also Chef de Mission for Rio 2016, where Tinker was Britain's youngest medallist.

"I'm saddened for people like Amy and I think that once you have elite Olympians and athletes airing their views, it's important because that gives the platform for others to come forward," England said.

"I can absolutely categorically tell everyone - abuse has no place in sport at all, and absolutely we don't condone any such activity.

"Our safeguarding at the Olympics for athletes is very strong and our processes are rigorous in this regard."

He also stressed that no one who is under investigation for abuse would be allowed to be part of Britain's support team for Tokyo 2020.

England added: "In terms of staffing, we are quite clear that anybody that is under investigation would not be part of Team GB.

"We wouldn't expect anybody to be brought forward and nominated by governing bodies who were under investigation in any way, shape or form."

A confidential helpline has also been set up for British gymnasts to report bullying and abuse they have suffered in wake of the most recent scandal.

The service will be run by the British Athletes' Commission (BAC) and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

BAC Board member Peter Crowther had previously requested that British Gymnastics step down from the investigation, with his comments now vindicated.

Crowther told the BBC that the helpline will be "a safe place for athletes to go to".

"We will then get each of these athletes the respective support they need," Crowther added.

"It will be staffed by appropriately qualified personnel, and will deal with all queries as they come in – we have already had inquiries.

"It was gut-wrenching to see these utterly disgraceful allegations be made public and concerning not just athletes, but young children.

"This is likely to be one of the more in-depth and broad-ranging situations we've faced, but unfortunately we've dealt with many situations of alleged abuse, across many sports."

The BAC and NSPCC helpline will be available to use as of July 20.

One of Britain's brightest gymnastics prospects, Tinkler revealed this week that she made a formal complaint to British Gymnastics in December, while the Downie sisters claimed abusive behaviour in gymnastics had become "completely normalised".

British Gymnastics' handling of abuse allegations in the past has been criticised, including the case of Catherine Lyons, who was allegedly hit by her coach so hard that it left a hand print on her thigh.

This is said to have been spotted by another parent at the end of a training session.

After a parent raised the concern in 2012 to the governing body, British Gymnastics did not inform Lyons' parents of the abuse and the couple only found out years later, it has been reported.

British Gymnastics briefly suspended the unnamed coach, before reinstating them.

They were suspended again when Lyons provided additional evidence in 2017.

British gymnasts have been empowered to come forward in part by Netflix documentary Athlete A, which details the abuse scandal at USA Gymnastics involving disgraced former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Commenting on the independent review, UK Sport said in a statement: "UK Sport and Sport England welcome and support the decision of British Gymnastics to step aside from the review it announced last week and have agreed to co-commission a fully independent review into the serious concerns raised by gymnasts.

"We are working closely with key stakeholders, including the BAC and the Child Protection in Sport Unit, 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.

"Our immediate priority is to provide support for all those affected by these allegations.

"We are working with the BAC as it finalises its plans to assist gymnasts and others who have been impacted to raise their concerns and take part in the review.

"Further and full details of the support available will be published online as soon as possible."