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British Cycling responds to independent review (out next month) with apology and action plan

"Athlete and participant welfare is our highest priority and we deeply regret any instance where we have failed to deliver," says governing body's chair...

British Cycling has unveiled the key points of the action plan it has drawn up in response to the independent review into the culture of its World Class Programme ordered by government funding agency UK Sport last year following allegations of bullying and discrimination.

The much-delayed report of the independent review, which was led by British Rowing chairman Annemarie Phelps, is expected to be published next month, but British Cycling and UK Sport were given a draft of the document in late December.

Yesterday, the governing body’s chair Jonathan Browning and UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl briefed riders and British Cycling staff on what action planned as a result of the independent review’s findings.

That meeting took place on the same day that the organisation was again under fire in the press as a result of the ongoing House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee as it held its latest oral evidence session under its inquiry into doping in sport.

> British Cycling admits "serious failings" in record keeping over mystery Wiggins medical package

As far as the independent review is concerned, British Cycling said in a statement today that “the actions include but are not limited to” the following:

Through consultation with riders, develop best-in-class mechanisms for athlete representation and engagement

‘Whole life’ development opportunities for every rider and improvements to the support given to riders who leave the world class programme

Conduct staff, rider and volunteer surveys to inform a refreshed set of values, behaviours and leadership principles that the whole of British Cycling will live by, and will define and embed the ‘One British Cycling’ concept

An updated and reinforced code of conduct

Implement and embed a talent-focused approach throughout British Cycling, enhancing the professional development of staff, riders and volunteers

Review procedures around complaints reporting and handling

Develop the Board to improve its governance to conform to the requirements of the new Code for Sports Governance

Embed the new leadership and operational management team structure to deliver more coherent and consistent leadership and management under the concept of ‘one British Cycling’

Review and improve the management structure of the World Class Programme.

More than 80 people are understood to have submitted evidence to the independent review, which followed the resignation last April of former Great Britain Cycling Team technical director Shane Sutton following allegations of bullying and discrimination made by track sprinter Jess Varnish and former Paralympic champion Darren Kenny, among others.

> Varnish wants to resume career but questions whether British Cycling is serious about reform

The public version of the report will be redacted to protect the identities of those who gave evidence as well as the individuals identified therein, with today’s statement saying: “The report and its findings are of great strategic importance to both British Cycling and UK Sport and both organisations are keen to publish as much of the report as possible as well as their respective action plans to address the recommendations.

"Following legal advice, the independent panel has been required to take some further, final but necessary, steps in order to protect those who have willingly given evidence to the review and to ensure that others are not deterred from contributing to any future reviews of this nature.

"UK Sport and British Cycling are acutely aware of the public interest in the review and are working to ensure the report and its findings can be published in as open and transparent a way as possible, as soon as possible.‎"

Browning, who was appointed chair of British Cycling last month, said the organisation is “committed to implementing the recommendations of the independent review in full to ensure we can provide the best possible environment in which” its staff and athletes “can continue to flourish.”

He said that “the failures within our World Class Programme occurred at a time when our sport and indeed the wider UK high performance system were undergoing rapid transformation in terms of realising unprecedented medal success on the world stage.

“Nonetheless, athlete and participant welfare is our highest priority and we deeply regret any instance where we have failed to deliver.

“Inevitably such a transformation requires frequent adjustment and evolution of governance, policies, procedures and operating practices,” he added.

“We are very grateful to the independent panel and everyone who contributed to the review for helping us better understand the improvements we need to make, and we are fully embracing this opportunity.”

UK Sport chief executive Nicholl said: “While the independent review into what potentially needed to change within the culture of British Cycling’s World Class Programme is yet to be concluded the work to date has, as we expected, identified valuable lessons, not only for British Cycling, but also some that we as leaders of the system can implement across all our funded sports.”

The funding body has summarised its action plan as follows:

Provide the new leadership of British Cycling with more intensive support and advice through a period of change

Review our funding agreement and our approach to case management of sports to ensure more clarity of responsibilities and accountabilities

Develop and implement a new cultural “health check” across all funded sports in the Tokyo cycle

Renew our focus on inductions and people development programmes, placing more emphasis on the importance of culture, duty of care, leadership, management and communication

Ensure all sports have an appropriate mechanism for the voice of the athletes to be heard and refocus the existing system-wide athlete and staff insights surveys.




Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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