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UK Sport denies calling for resignation of British Cycling chairman

Funding agency says it helped appoint Jonathan Browning and also backs new chief executive and performance director

UK Sport has denied that it has called for the departure of British Cycling chairman Jonathan Browning in the wake of criticism of the organisation contained in the independent review, details of which were leaked last week.

The review reportedly says that British Cycling’s board “reversed” the findings of an internal investigation into the allegations of sexism made by track sprinter Jess Varnish against former Great Britain technical director Shane Sutton.

British Cycling ultimately upheld just one of nine charges against Sutton, who had resigned last April following further claims of bullying and discrimination against him that prompted UK Sport to order the independent review.

Yesterday, a report in the Observer said that senior figures in UK Sport considered Browning’s position to be “untenable.” Meanwhile, Varnish told the Mail on Sunday that the whole British Cycling board should resign.

But last night, UK Sport, the government agency which provides National Lottery cash to national governing bodies of Olympic and Paralympic sports, said it had supported Browning’s appointment as chairman.

He had been a non-executive director of British Cycling for three years prior to that, and replaced Bob Howden, who remains president.

The agency also said it helped approve the recent appointments of Julie Harrington as British Cycling’s chief executive, and of Stephen Park as performance director.

British Cycling has already outlined a 39-point joint action plan with UK Sport to make the "necessary changes to both culture and governance" in the wake of the independent review.

UK Sport said that both it and Sport England “supported the move that the British Cycling board took to elect Jonathan Browning, one of their independent board members, to chair the organisation, pending the agreement and implementation of that action plan."

It added that the action plan would need to be agreed "before any new funding flows from April 2017," with British Cycling due to receive £26 million in the current Olympic cycle, and that Harrington and Park "have an important role to play in delivering the necessary changes.".

Regarding the independent review, UK Sport said: "The boards of both organisations received a draft version in December and all parties have accepted the emerging recommendations of the panel in full.

"The board of British Cycling took early action to prepare a 39-point action plan based on the emerging findings and the recommendations of the review to systematically address the cultural and behavioural shortcomings in British Cycling and made a public commitment to focusing much more on their people, alongside the good work they do on participation and performance.

"UK Sport is satisfied that this plan addresses the findings and recommendations of the draft report."

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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