Re­view into big­otry will run un­til af­ter Olympics

Al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing in Bri­tish cy­cling will hang over sport un­til Septem­ber

The Herald - Herald Sport - - CYCLING - HAI­LEY MILNE

THE in­de­pen­dent re­view into al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing and dis­crim­i­na­tion at Bri­tish Cy­cling will con­clude af­ter Au­gust’s Olympic and Septem­ber’s Par­a­lympic Games in Rio.

In a joint state­ment, Bri­tish Cy­cling and UK Sport an­nounced An­na­marie Phelps, the chair of Bri­tish Row­ing, would lead the re­view, which fol­lows al­le­ga­tions made against for­mer Bri­tish Cy­cling tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Shane Sut­ton.

One of the key ques­tions in the re­view will be to an­swer if “there [are] fun­da­men­tal be­havioural is­sues within the cli­mate and cul­ture of Bri­tish Cy­cling”, the state­ment said.

Sut­ton stood down on Wed­nes­day, with 100 days to go to the Rio Olympics.

The 58-year-old Aus­tralian had been sus­pended by Bri­tish Cy­cling a day ear­lier af­ter it was claimed he called Par­a­lympic cy­clists “gimps”, shortly af­ter the in­de­pen­dent re­view was an­nounced into claims of sex­ism made by Jess Var­nish. Sut­ton de­nies the claims.

Phelps, who rowed at the 1996 Olympics, is also a trustee and vice-chair of the Bri­tish Par­a­lympic As­so­ci­a­tion and a board mem­ber of the Bri­tish Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion.

She said: “I fully un­der­stand the im­por­tance of lead­ing this en­quiry. I will do so to my best abil­i­ties and in the best in­ter­est of sport in the UK.”

Bri­tish Cy­cling pres­i­dent Bob How­den de­scribed the al­le­ga­tions as “ex­tremely dis­turb­ing”.

He added: “We will not shy away from tak­ing what­ever ac­tion is nec­es­sary.”

The UK Sport chief ex­ec­u­tive Liz Ni­choll said: “UK Sport ex­pects the high­est level of eth­i­cal and pro­fes­sional stan­dards from its funded ath­letes, ath­lete sup­port per­son­nel and na­tional gov­ern­ing bod­ies. Win­ning is worth noth­ing if it is not done fairly, eq­ui­tably and with the great­est in­tegrity.

“The al­le­ga­tions made by cur­rent and for­mer ath­letes about Bri­tish Cy­cling’s world-class pro­gramme over the past week have been deeply trou­bling to UK Sport, and any long term cul­tural is­sues within the pro­gramme must there­fore be fully in­ves­ti­gated.”

The joint state­ment said the re­view would be­gin “im­mi­nently” and con­clude af­ter Septem­ber’s Par­a­lympics “to min­imise the dis­rup­tion to Bri­tish Cy­cling’s fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for Rio, while al­low­ing ath­letes and sup­port per­son­nel to play a full role in the re­view”.

Ni­choll will be part of a com­mis­sion­ing board, along­side Mar­ian Lauder MBE, non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Bri­tish Cy­cling, to en­sure the re­view panel, ap­pointed by Phelps, is sup­ported.

The panel will have a bal­ance of skills, in­clud­ing from an ath­lete’s per­spec­tive, and then de­ter­mine the ex­act re­view process. The state­ment added: “The key find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions of the re­view will be pub­lished, fol­low­ing its con­clu­sion, en­sur­ing con­fi­den­tial­ity for those who wish to give ev­i­dence.”

The terms of ref­er­ence said the re­view “must in­clude, but is not lim­ited to, all forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion and bul­ly­ing”.

The state­ment added: “Spe­cific ques­tions/is­sues to be cov­ered by the re­view: Are there fun­da­men­tal be­havioural is­sues within the cli­mate and cul­ture of Bri­tish Cy­cling world class pro­gramme?

“If so, what are they and what rec­om­men­da­tions can be made on how they should be ad­dressed?” Ni­choll praised the Bri­tish Cy­cling lead­er­ship for “quickly recog­nis­ing the sever­ity of these al­le­ga­tions and es­tab­lish­ing this joint re­view”.

Bri­tish Cy­cling chief ex­ec­u­tive Ian Drake in­sists he was not aware of the al­le­ga­tions of dis­crim­i­na­tion to­wards para-cy­clists. Two sep­a­rate sources have stated that Drake was aware of claims of bul­ly­ing and dis­crim­i­na­tion against Sut­ton and did not act.

Drake said yes­ter­day: “I have never been made aware, for­mally or in­for­mally, of any al­le­ga­tion that Shane Sut­ton had used the of­fen­sive term ‘gimps’ in ref­er­ence to Par­a­lympic ath­letes prior to the me­dia re­ports of the past few days.

“The sug­ges­tion that I would have not acted on such an al­le­ga­tion is wholly wrong.”

An in­ter­nal per­for­mance re­view con­ducted af­ter the London 2012 Games saw more than 40 rid­ers and staff in­ter­viewed.

But the post-London 2012 re­port, writ­ten by Peter King, Drake’s pre­de­ces­sor as the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chief ex­ec­u­tive un­til 2008, was not pub­lished or made avail­able to se­nior per­son­nel. It re­mains con­fi­den­tial.

Bri­tish Cy­cling said the re­port would be made avail­able in the in­de­pen­dent re­view process.

UN­DER THE SPOT­LIGHT: Shane Sut­ton stepped down as tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of Bri­tish Cy­cling ear­lier this week

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