UCI president Brian Cookson has said that he never received a copy of the King report when he was president of British Cycling in 2012. The report, which was finally made public earlier this month, foresaw many of the cultural problems that were later to cause such problems for the organisation and many have questioned whether its recommendations were acted upon.
In September 2012, then British Cycling chief executive, Ian Drake, asked his predecessor Peter King to conduct an assessment of the UK Sport-funded World Class Programme.
King interviewed over 40 riders and staff with a guarantee of anonymity and while it isn’t clear who saw the final version of the report, British Cycling have previously stated that “key findings and recommendations were shared in briefings with UK Sport and the British Cycling board.”
Speaking in February, King said: “As far as I’m aware my original report was delivered to Ian Drake and I don’t know how much further it went after that.”
He added: “What I do know is that a lot of people told me things in my report that they would have expected to see acted upon and I don’t want them to think it was my fault that they haven’t been.”
During the period in question, Cookson was president of British Cycling, but he told Inside the Games that he had not seen the report itself.
“I was not given a copy of that report, I have trawled through all of my emails and checked with Peter King and he confirms he did not send me a copy of that report at the time.
“I did not see it, but what I did participate in was a board meeting in December 2012, when the conclusions of this report were presented to us.”
However, Cookson said that it was “absolutely wrong” that the board had ignored the conclusions of the report.
“We did not ignore them. We were given information about them. We did not see the whole report but we were given information about the findings and were given recommendations and an action plan, and in the first half of 2013 they began to be implemented.
“One always looks at oneself and thinks what could we have done differently, but I had no reason to believe that the findings presented to us were not a full and comprehensive review of the information.”
The chief executive of UK Sport, Liz Nicholl, has previously said that British Cycling was guilty of “a lack of transparency” in handing over a “very light touch version” of the King report in the form of a summary that made no mention of claims of bullying.
“We would have expected to receive the full report at the time,” she said. “That’s a complete lack of transparency and that’s a relationship that is not acceptable in terms of what was shared with us as opposed to what the actual facts of that report were.”
Having not seen the report itself, how much better informed were the British Cycling board members? Cookson says they were presented with ‘outcomes and recommendations’ and ‘a series of action’.
“What Ian presented to us was the outcomes and recommendations from that report, a number of which were nothing to do with any issues of behaviour.
“They were about how we sustain the success of the organisation and benefit from the medal winning success to benefit the sport as a whole, and sustain that going forwards, after the huge success of London 2012.
“One of the things that was in that report was that it had been discovered that there were behavioural issues, within the WCPP (World Class Performance Programme). What was recommended to us by the chief executive was a series of action.
“For instance, it was agreed and understood it to be the case that David Brailsford had committed to remain as performance director to Rio 2016, Dr Steve Peters would remain supporting podium athletes and arrange for succession for himself thereafter and Chris Boardman would stay in charge of research and development.
“There would be reorganisation in the management, there would be a new position brought in over the programmes director to ease the administrative and management role on all of them. And that Shane Sutton would be moved out of direct coaching of athletes and into a role where he was mentoring and developing the rest of the coaches.”
Cookson does however concede that he should have seen the report.
“I guess when I look back, I think maybe it would have been better if I had seen the full copy of the report. I had no reason to believe that there was serious problems that were not being dealt with properly.
“We got a serious of recommendations from the chief executive and it was explained to us in the board meeting what the problems were, he told us what the action plan he was proposing was going to be and we agreed to it.
“I think we did take the right action at the time given the information available to us.”
Earlier this week, France's David Lappartient launched a bid to oust Cookson from the UCI presidency.
He will stand against him at the World Cycling Congress in Bergen, Norway, in September, having been critical of the reforms undertaken on Cookson’s watch.