International Cycling

British Cycling operated 'culture of fear'

2017-03-10 21:50
Cycling (File)

London - British Cycling has been accused of creating a "culture of fear", with a leaked review also saying it made a "shocking and inexcusable decision" to reverse findings into allegations of sexism.

The Daily Mail, citing Friday a leaked draft copy of an independent review into British Cycling by UK Sport, said an inquiry led by British Cycling's grievance officer Alex Russell found "considerably more" than one of the nine claims against former technical director Shane Sutton by rider Jess Varnish could be proven.

It was revealed in December that Australian coach Sutton, who together with Dave Brailsford has been widely credited for overseeing the transformation of British Cycling into a medal-winning powerhouse, had been found guilty of one count of using inappropriate language but that insufficient evidence could be found to support eight other charges.

The ruling failed to satisfy either Sutton, who resigned in April last year but who has repeatedly denied misconduct, or Varnish, who had her funding removed after failing to qualify for Rio 2016.

Varnish said Sutton's response was to tell her to "go and have a baby".

Eventually, a review into the culture of British Cycling's world-class performance programme led by British Rowing chair Annamarie Phelps was set up.

According to the Mail, the leaked draft review said British Cycling looked to change Russell's conclusions in a bid to retain the highly-regarded Sutton.

"The actions of the British Cycling board in that regard are shocking and inexcusable," the paper quoted the review as saying.

"They also call into serious question whether the composition of the British Cycling board is fit to govern a national sporting body."

The review reportedly said British Cycling had been badly governed for years.

According to the Mail, the review said former performance director Brailsford, now in charge at track outfit Team Sky, had been an "untouchable" figure.

Management was "characterised by fear and bullying from leadership figures".

"Since the late 2000s, cracks in terms of the climate and culture have been present," the report added, according to the Mail.

"Instead of being repaired as they should have been, those cracks were ignored in pursuit of medal success."

That will make uncomfortable reading for UK Sport who've repeatedly emphasised their "no compromise" formula for funding that is based solely on prospects of that medal success.

British Cycling, responding in a statement, said it now accepted "that the world class programme leadership focused on athlete performance and medal delivery without sufficient care and attention to the overall staff and athlete culture and environment".

Last week, British Cycling was criticised by United Kingdom Anti-Doping before a committee of lawmakers for failing to keep proper records of drugs given to riders.

UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead revealed to a committee of lawmakers that British cycling officials had told her that information relating to star rider Bradley Wiggins had been lost after a team doctor's computer was stolen on holiday in Greece in 2014.

An eight-time Olympic gold medallist, Wiggins has faced repeated questions about his medical history since Russian hackers Fancy Bears revealed documents last September which showed he received TUEs (therapeutic use exemptions) for the corticosteroid triamcinolone to coincide with three major races in 2011, 2012 and 2013 - including his victory in the 2012 Tour de France.

TUE's are official notes allowing athletes to use otherwise banned substances for the treatment of legitimate medical conditions.

But many within cycling claim the system is open to abuse.

Wiggins, however, has always denied any wrongdoing and insisted he needed the treatment to deal with a pollen allergy.

Read more on:    cycling
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