‘No com­pro­mise’ pol­icy ever harder to jus­tify if bul­lies are re­warded from public purse

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY -

HE un­rav­el­ling of Bri­tish Cy­cling, so re­cently the poster boys for medal ob­ses­sives, has con­tin­ued apace over the last week amidst claims that al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing within the or­gan­i­sa­tion were largely ig­nored.

It is a par­tic­u­larly wor­ry­ing story be­cause no sport has greater po­ten­tial to align with health and well­be­ing projects, yet so much of what we hear about cy­cling com­pletely con­tra­dicts that, whether in terms of the drug abuse that can cause ter­mi­nal phys­i­cal dam­age, or th­ese be­havioural is­sues that are po­ten­tially as harm­ful psy­cho­log­i­cally.

As is ev­i­dent when vis­it­ing most of our North­ern Euro­pean neigh­bours, let alone Katie Melua’s Nine-mil­lion Bi­cy­cles in Beijing, cy­cling can be in­cor­po­rated ben­e­fi­cially into ev­ery­day life. And af­ter all the high-pro­file suc­cesses achieved at Olympic Games and/or the ma­jor tours by Chris Hoy, Vicky Pendle­ton, Bradley Wig­gins, Ni­cole Cooke et al, the pro­mo­tional tools ought to be avail­able to trans­form the UK’s un­friendly cy­cling environment.

In­stead they are all now associated with an or­gan­i­sa­tion blighted by ac­cu­sa­tions of hav­ing de­ployed tac­tics that have a com­pa­ra­ble feel to those im­ple­mented by the most tainted of all modern sports­men, se­crecy and bul­ly­ing hav­ing been their fel­low cy­clist Lance Arm­strong’s stock-in-trade when en­gag­ing in the dop­ing he reck­oned was nec­es­sary to put him on an even play­ing field with ri­vals.

Arm­strong’s win-at-all-costs at­ti­tude could be in­ter­preted as dan­ger­ously close – in terms of phi­los­o­phy rather than prac­tice it must be stressed – to the “no com­pro­mise” line adopted by UK Sport when ax­ing sup­port for sports fail­ing to show the nec­es­sary medal-win­ning po­ten­tial.

To con­nect this last week’s theme, public in­vest­ment in sport should only be jus­ti­fied on the ba­sis of demon­strat­ing ben­e­fit to wider so­ci­ety. In po­lit­i­cal terms a se­ri­ous re­view is long overdue into the chan­nelling of re­sources into ac­tiv­i­ties that are avail­able to a mid­dle-class few, as op­posed to sports with the po­ten­tial for mass par­tic­i­pa­tion that are highly in­clu­sive, of which bas­ket­ball and bad­minton are the most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ples, reach­ing into com­mu­ni­ties that are of­ten oth­er­wise marginalised.

Un­til now the ar­gu­ment that young­sters will flock to sport as a re­sult of see­ing their com­pa­tri­ots col­lect medals has won the day in terms of jus­ti­fy­ing public spend­ing. Yet as re­cently as the end of last year fig­ures is­sued by the NHS showed that child­hood obe­sity in the UK is on the

No sport has greater po­ten­tial to align with health projects, yet so much of what we hear about cy­cling con­tra­dicts that

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