British Cycling has described Damian Collins MP as ‘ill-informed’ after he called for the resignation of chairman Jonathan Browning in the wake of the independent review into the culture of its World Class Programme.
Damian Collins MP, who is standing to continue as Culture, Media and Sport select committee chairman, said: "None of the members of the board from the period covered in the investigation should remain, which would mean that Jonathan Browning should stand aside from his position as chairman."
Collins also said that UK Sport should not support the September re-election bid of Brian Cookson, the head of the UCI, who was British Cycling president until he took on the role in September 2013.
In a statement, British Cycling described Collins’ views as ‘ill-informed’ and said they did not take into account changes already underway at the organisation.
“In accordance with the requirements of the new code for sports governance, and as we announced last week, a number of board members will be stepping down following the EGM in July when the national council votes to approve board changes. Seventy percent of the board will therefore change as a result. A mass walkout of the board at this time would be detrimental to the sport which is why we are seeking to responsibly manage this transition.
“The independent directors – Alex Russell, Jonathan Browning and Marian Lauder – will continue to be board members. Jonathan Browning will be eligible to apply for the appointed position of chair of British Cycling in the forthcoming open selection process in October this year. His role in introducing and maintaining the pace of change at British Cycling since becoming chair in February 2017 is unmatched in sport.
“Bob Howden, the former chair who stood down in February 2017 following four years in the role from November 2013, is eligible for re-election as British Cycling’s president this November, but would no longer be a member of the board. Should Bob stand, then this is a decision for our membership. Change is therefore very much coming to the British Cycling board, giving the organisation the leadership it needs to ensure we become a world class governing body
“Brian Cookson served as British Cycling president from 1997 until 2013, having joined an emergency committee in 1996 to save British Cycling from insolvency. He has made an enormous contribution to the sport in this country and around the world and we wish him every best wish as he seeks re-election for the role of UCI President.
“British Cycling is quickly and responsibly changing with the endorsement of UK Sport and Sport England, the Government’s own funding bodies. Our board – and that of many NGBs (national governing bodies) the length of the country – are filled with unpaid volunteers who give their time to steward our sport. Their voluntary contribution is invaluable, as is the 3.5m volunteer hours that British Cycling’s supporters have donated over the past year.
“Change is very much in train at British Cycling. Damian Collins would be very welcome to come to the National Cycling Centre, whenever he would like, to understand and witness the transformation that is underway.”
Jess Varnish, the Olympic track sprinter whose allegations of sexism and bullying at British Cycling in many ways precipitated the independent review into British Cycling, has said she feels ‘insulted’ by the outcome.
One of the people who gave evidence to the panel described Varnish as a ‘ringleader’ of criticism of British Cycling and a ‘troublemaker’.
“In a way I'm glad they have used this language because it shows what the people are like in there,” she said.
The Guardian reports that Varnish’s camp has also claimed that Browning refused to apologise to the 26-year-old when the pair met in Manchester this year.
A British Cycling spokesman responded: “We won’t be able to disclose the contents of that meeting as we gave assurances to Jess that it would remain confidential.”