Publication of British Cycling report into bullying postponed again until May

The review has become bogged down in legal wrangling, as those criticised in the panel's first take have strongly rejected its findings and the process has been widely criticised

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The Independent Online

The publication of a report into claims of bullying within the Great Britain team has been postponed again until May but British Cycling chairman Jonathan Browning is determined to push on with his response to the independent review's draft findings.

Set up last April after several ex-riders came forward with denied allegations of discrimination, inappropriate behaviour and sexism, the review was initially aiming to release its key findings by the end of November.

The Rio Games and the large amount of evidence received by the panel combined to make that deadline unlikely but a draft report was delivered to the boards of British Cycling and elite funding agency UK Sport before Christmas.

Since then, however, the review has become bogged down in legal wrangling, as those criticised in the panel's first take have strongly rejected its findings and the process has been criticised for not seeking a wider range of views, with many more supportive voices only now speaking out.

British Cycling, which has been under a cloud ever since ex-technical director Shane Sutton quit a year ago, became so frustrated by the delays that it announced its response to the review six weeks ago and has now, as promised, provided an update.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Browning said: "I wouldn't anybody to think that we're sitting here shell-shocked at what has happened - I've been really encouraged with the progress we've made already.

"We're where we said we would be and we have not missed any deadlines in terms of delivering the action plan. This is an organisation that is committed to doing what it said it would do."

Browning, who took over as chairman in February, outlined the significant overhaul in terms of leadership at the governing body, with new performance director Stephen Park at this week's World Track Cycling Championships in Hong Kong for his first mission, new chief executive Julie Harrington starting in May and the organisation's first "people director" Michael Chivers already starting to make a difference.

As revealed last week, Chivers is overseeing a "staff culture survey" that will be repeated for the riders and coaches after the world championships, with ex-GB riders also invited to contribute. The human resources boss is also consulting on how to give athletes a more formal voice within the governing body and improving how British Cycling identifies and nurtures talent.

But while there is no doubt of Browning's desire to move on, there are still several hurdles for British Cycling to clear before it can really put the last 12 months behind it.

Browning admitted the governing body was still working closely grassroots funding agency Sport England and UK Sport to ensure it meets sports minister Tracey Crouch's new governance code - a beefed-up set of rules that every governing body in receipt of public funds must comply with by the end of October.

To achieve that - and unlock the combined £43million it has been allocated over the next four years - British Cycling will have to hold an extraordinary general meeting in July in order to vote through the required changes to its governance structure, as the next annual general meeting is not until November. Browning said the organisation will be consulting its clubs and regional officials throughout June to explain the reforms.

There are also tough decisions to announce in terms of the make-up of the elite squad, as UK Sport cut its funding for Tokyo 2020 by £4million compared to Rio 2016. With the men's mountain-bike and women's BMX teams completely dropped, they will bear the brunt of the cuts as the squad is sliced from 115 to 92 riders.

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British Cycling are yet to publish their report (Getty)

And then there is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding UK Anti-Doping's seven-month investigation into allegations of wrongdoing within the GB set-up and its professional road racing off-shoot Team Sky.

That process has gone quiet since UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead's explosive appearance before the Culture, Media and Sport select committee in February, which resulted in stinging criticism for the medical record-keeping at British Cycling and Team Sky.

The GB team's head medic Dr Richard Freeman is currently off with a stress-related illness and the English Institute of Sport's director of medical services Dr Rod Jaques is carrying out a review of British Cycling's medical policies.

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