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