Panel reports 'culture of fear' in British cycling


The Cycling Independent Report (CIR) says there was a lack of "good governance" at the board of British Cycling, which failed to act over warnings of bad behaviour in 2012.

Similarly the removal of Jess Varnish from the WCP, the situation that led to this whole enquiry, was not criticised in the same terms, as an "act of retribution", in the final report as it was in a draft.

It followed earlier claims by cyclist Jessica Varnish that he had told her to "go and have a baby" rather than cycle.

Since replacing British Cycling president Bob Howden as chairman in February, Browning has pushed through a new code of conduct, brought in new leadership and made proposals for changes that could see most of the men who presided over the Varnish affair replaced by end of the summer.

It also called for better monitoring of the WCP by UK Sport. Interpersonal skills were also an area for coaching staff in the WCP.

"It is clear from the CIR that our structures and procedures, especially at the leadership level within the WCPP, were lacking".

British Cycling chairman Jonathan Browning said: "Since the findings were shared with us we've rapidly made major changes to the WCP (world class programme) and to our leadership operations and governance, so we can ensure that British Cycling learns the lessons and becomes a world class governing body". The report states that there was a "sense of fear" among some WCP staff and athletes, that Sutton used "discriminatory language" and that some female riders said that they found the atmosphere "uncomfortable".

"We hear those criticisms clearly and have and are, committed to acting on them".

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Part of the CIR is redacted and some of its language and conclusions are different from those of a draft report which was leaked to the Daily Mail in March.

"We are determined to learn the lessons and move forward, ensuring effective and accountable leadership that fosters a transparent and inclusive culture".

British Cycling has introduced various changes since the claims, while UK Sport has promised a "root and branch" review of world-class programmes and denied it put medals before athlete welfare.

They state the organisation will strengthen case management of WCPP to ensure full and effective accountability, while they will require all copies of any reviews conducted that relate to the sport's programmes.

Those are the headline outcomes of a statement just released by UK Sport in the wake of an inquiry into allegations of bullying and are in cycling, on the back of similar in other sports.

"We welcome the rigour and professionalism of the Independent Review panel's work led so ably by Annamarie Phelps", said Liz Nicholl, UK Sport chief executive. "There is much talent that could be better harnessed to make British Cycling even more successful", said Phelps.

UK Sport said: "UK Sport acknowledges the need for greater oversight of World Class Programmes, with a particular focus on culture and duty of care".

Overall, the final report is seven pages shorter than the incendiary draft report, which caused considerable panic within British Cycling and UK Sport, and is undoubtedly the result of a strong lobbying effort from senior figures within the sport who felt the initial assessment was far too harsh.