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Independent review into culture of British Cycling released alongside 2012 report which foresaw many of the problems

UK Sport also publish a 'special report into alleged financial impropriety'...

After months of waiting, the Independent Review into the Climate and Culture of the World Class Programme at British Cycling has finally been released. It emerged alongside two further reports into the organisation: Peter King’s 2012 review, which foresaw many of the problems to come, and a 'special report into alleged financial impropriety'.  

Commissioned 14 months ago, the independent review was prepared by a panel led by British Rowing chair Annamarie Phelps.

There has been a significant change in tone compared to the draft version leaked earlier in the year. The word ‘bullying’ is conspicuous by its absence, for example. Phelps denied that the version released today represented a 'whitewash' but acknowledged that 'emotive language was removed'.

The review has strongly recommended that UK Sport funding be made conditional on British Cycling’s implementation of its various recommendations. Jessica Varnish – whose allegations of discriminatory conduct and bullying precipitated so much of what followed – will doubtless note that these include not just improved selection procedures but also professional staff training “not only in relation to core disciplines but also in terms of equalities and discrimination.”

The section relating to her own complaints and dismissal has however been altered compared to the previous version.

Suggestions that the findings of an internal investigation were effectively covered up have been removed. The review now concludes: “The panel did not view her removal as an act of discrimination, but, in the panel’s view at the very least it did not follow contractual due process.”

Earlier this year, Liz Nicholl, the chief executive of UK Sport, the body that provides British Cycling with its public funding, accused the governing body of covering up the most damaging findings from an internal British Cycling report carried out by Peter King in 2012.

This too has now been released and King did indeed flag up concerns relating to many of the issues that subsequently arose.

In that report, King made explicit reference to “a culture of fear and bullying” and an “autocratic leadership style.”

Meanwhile, some of the observations he saw fit to include within a list of things that the organisation did ‘less well’ included:

  • Level of support for women is embarrassing
  • Fear factor and unhappy environment
  • Bullying and public criticism

King also made reference to the “most bizarre management structure I have ever seen in my life.”

Reacting to the independent review (CIR), Chairman of British Cycling Jonathan Browning said: “We accept, in full, the recommendations in the CIR and apologise for where we have failed or fallen short of the standards which we should have achieved.

“It is clear from the CIR that our structures and procedures, especially at the leadership level within the World Class Programme (WCP), were lacking. Since the findings were shared with us, we have rapidly made major changes to the WCP and to our leadership, operations and governance so that we can ensure that British Cycling learns these lessons and becomes a world class governing body.”

UK Sport has also admitted to failings. CEO Liz Nicholl commented: “I accept that UK Sport should have been more alert to warning signs of cultural challenges developing in British Cycling. If we had, we would have focused on working with the sport to find the solution to tackle these issues. Our action plan commits to strengthening our case management to ensure greater oversight of World Class Programmes, with a particular focus on culture and duty of care.”

UK Sport has also published a 'special report into alleged financial impropriety'. The investigation found no evidence of fraud or corruption but says that British Cycling needs better, more modern controls.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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Velovoyeur | 7 years ago

As with many things, there are facts, opinion, spin, lies and damned lies.

It is ironic that UK Sport, who provide money for any national governing body, expect to see results in the form of medals and was happy to give BC oodles of funds while they were producing the goods. As soon as there is an issue, that has been extensively reported and which nobody can deny, they become holier than thou and blame everyone other than there own poor regulatory mechanisms. If an organisation is giving millions of pounds to another for provision of goods or services then surely it would be sensible to have controls and reporting in place. UK Sport will say, no doubt, that they were fed incorrect information and that they took BC on trust. Is this really anacceptable way to no oversee the spending of taxpayers money? 

However, when the organisation is producing lots of medals (hence it was called the medal factory) you can take a lenient view on this as it makes everyone look good and feel happy. When things go wrong, the paymaster needs a scape goat and this is what has happened to BC. There is no denying that the practices that were employed in BC are unacceptable but the bigger question might be how much pressure was being applied to get results which lead to some of these?

MandaiMetric | 7 years ago
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A disappointing, but not unexpected, outcome.

British Cycling board sanitises their internal review into sexism claim

UK Sport waters down their independent review of BC, despite it being previously leaked.

What's next

UK Culture, Media and Sport Committee report further delayed?

Is there a jiffy bag review pending from UKAD which can be blurred into "no evidence of anything" language?

zanf | 7 years ago

Did anyone expect anything other than it being watered down?

There was an incident recently on a local level involving a commissaire making rude and unnecessary comments about someone on a race start line that is making me question whether I want anything further to do with BC.

Shame really as Ive been marshalling races for a couple of years now but there seems to be something about BC that is just rotten to the core.

Gkam84 | 7 years ago

Not a whitewash. They've had to import bleach because there was not enough in the country to supply what is covered up here. I think that report should be at least 50% longer than it is, but they have just light skimmed over certain parts to make it look as if they were actually investigated. 

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