UK Sport claims Sport Integrity will provide a "safe space" for people within high-performance programmes to raise concerns ©UK Sport

A new independent disclosure and complaints service pilot is to be established by UK Sport next month to deal with allegations of bullying, harassment, discrimination or abuse within sport.

The pilot, called Sport Integrity, is expected to provide free assistance to funded national governing bodies (NGBs) operating Olympic and Paralympic high-performance programmes, with the aim of upholding the "highest standards of conduct in their sports".

UK Sport claims the service will offer a "safe space" for people to raise concerns courtesy of a confidential reporting line hosted by Crimestoppers and an independent process to enable sports to take appropriate disciplinary action.

Sport Integrity is due to be delivered by Sport Resolutions, an independent sports-specific dispute resolution service.

It is set to come into operation on May 3 and Simon Morton, deputy chief executive of UK Sport, believes it is a "really significant step forward in strengthening independent integrity".

"It will enable funded athletes and high-performance personnel to raise concerns about conduct related matters, like bullying, harassment and discrimination," said Morton.

"It will have the capacity to support the whole of British high-performance system that we support which is about 2,500 people.

"All dispute resolutions start with the person finding the courage to speak out but we suspect that many still don’t.

"If we don’t have trusted routes of disclosure the rest of the integrity process becomes ineffective.

"For the first time a reporting line will be established across Olympic and Paralympic sport for conduct related matters and it will be hosted by Crimestoppers and provide a safe and confident space for people in high-performance sport to raise their concerns."

British Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler is among those to speak out about abuse within gymnastics ©Getty Images
British Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler is among those to speak out about abuse within gymnastics ©Getty Images

Morton revealed that just four NGBs had agreed to use Sport Integrity but was convinced the figure would "steadily increase" over the coming weeks.

British governing bodies in athletics, gymnastics and cycling are among those that have been embroiled in bullying scandals in recent years.

"We believe that the vast majority [of NGBs] uphold high standards but we also know that more needs to be done to call out unacceptable behaviour and for people to be able to feel completely comfortable in doing so," said UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday.

British Gymnastics has came under intense criticism over its handling of bullying and abuse allegations made by a number of gymnasts.

UK Sport and Sport England co-commissioned an independent review into the troubled organisation to investigate the period from August 2008 to August 2020.

Barrister Anne Whyte is leading the review expected to investigate the nature and volume of complaints received by British Gymnastics, including allegations of mistreatment, sexual, mental and physical abuse, bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Morton said the Whyte Review is due to be published at the end of May and admitted the report was "a factor" in UK Sport’s consideration for the need for the Sport Integrity service.

Four national governing bodies in Britain have signed up to the Sport Integrity pilot ©Getty Images
Four national governing bodies in Britain have signed up to the Sport Integrity pilot ©Getty Images

"This is a pilot so we have not currently made it mandatory for funded NGBs to use Sport Integrity but we are confident that they will want to because all barriers to its use have been removed," said Morton.

"It will be completely independent and allow NGBs to discharge their own grievance and disciplinary policies through a specialist and independent investigation body.

"It will be housed within Sports Resolution - a wholly independent body.

"UK Sport has zero input into decisions that it makes."

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is among those who have urged the British Government to create a national sports ombudsman that would have the ability to hold governing bodies to account for the duty of care they provide.

"The decision for an ombudsman is not one for us but we are very open to having that discussion," added Munday.

"We have taken the action that is within our powers and believe it will have a positive impact on athletes and staff in our communities."