Team GB cycling had 'culture of fear' report reveals, but independent review is watered-down version of March leak

UK Sport knew of cultural and behavioural issues within the Great Britain cycling team since late 2012, but addressing those was not prioritised, the independent review also revealed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A "culture of fear'' existed within the Great Britain cycling team, an independent review has said.

UK Sport knew of cultural and behavioural issues within the Great Britain cycling team since late 2012, but addressing those was not prioritised, the independent review also revealed, but the language and tone is significantly more watered-down than a draft that leaked in March.

The much-delayed report into claims of bullying and discrimination with the Great Britain cycling team has strongly criticised British Cycling's board, former technical director Shane Sutton and funding agency UK Sport.

Based on more than 100 contributions from current and former riders and staff, the independent report says a "culture of fear" existed within the team, "good governance was lacking" at British Cycling and Sutton operated within a "power pocket" without real oversight.

Written by a five-strong panel led by British Rowing chair Annamarie Phelps, the report was commissioned 14 months ago following allegations made by ex-GB track sprinter Jess Varnish and several other former riders.

However, the report's language, and some of its conclusions, are significantly diluted from a more damning draft that was written at the end of February.

jess-varnish-2.jpg
Varnish does not believe Sutton should be allowed to work in cycling again (Getty)

That draft, was leaked to the Daily Mail in March and accused the British Cycling board of being "dysfunctional", "inept" and effectively covering up an internal investigation into Varnish's claims last year.

That section in the final report, though, is much altered, although the central message is still that the panel believes the board mishandled the case and failed to follow "contractual due process".

This will greatly disappoint Varnish's camp, which has already started legal action to obtain more information about why she was dramatically cut from the GB squad last April - the event which triggered this remarkable saga for British sport's most successful team.

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.

There are also more references to UK Sport's failure to properly monitor what was happening within the Manchester-based Olympic and Paralympic cycling set-up, which will lead to important questions about the organisation's famous "no compromise" approach, which links funding to medal potential.

British Cycling, on the other hand, will probably breathe a sigh of relief about Phelps' final assessment, particularly as it can say it has started to implement all of her recommendations for change.

Comments