New details have emerged of the extent to which British Cycling may have wilfully ignored claims of bullying within its World Class Programme. A summary of an internal review sent to UK Sport’s chief executive officer Liz Nicholl in December 2012 made no mention of bullying, despite it being one of the main findings.
Last month Nicholl accused British Cycling of covering up the most damaging findings of a report it commissioned after the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The government agency only saw the full version of the report recently, as part of the independent review ordered following allegations made by track sprinter Jess Varnish and Nicholl said that British Cycling had been guilty of “a lack of transparency” in passing on a “very light touch version” previously.
The review was conducted by former British Cycling chief executive, Peter King, who said: “The honest truth is I don’t know what version of my report was shared with UK Sport, either then or now. And I don’t really want to say anything about all of this until the independent report comes out.”
King said that as far as he was aware, the original report had been delivered to Ian Drake, his replacement as CEO, “and I don’t know how much further it went after that.”
The email from Drake to Nicholl has now been revealed following a Freedom of Information request by ITV. Nowhere is there any mention of a culture of inappropriate conduct by any of his staff.
Drake did however brief Helen Nicholls, a UK Sport performance adviser, before sending the email and “Behaviours – teams / individuals needs addressing at times” was listed as one of eight weaknesses in the organisation that were discussed.
Despite this, UK Sport did not ask to see a full copy of the report.
Nicholl said: "There was no indication at the time that there was anything of any significance to be investigated. We had no knowledge of the extent of the claims. It didn’t ring any alarm bells.
“It’s clear there was not full disclosure which demonstrates a lack of transparency. I don’t know why it wasn’t shared with us. Maybe it was just a poor judgement call. I have not had the opportunity to ask that question of Ian Drake.”
A British Cycling spokesperson said: “British Cycling has acknowledged and takes very seriously previous cultural and governance failings in the World Class Programme. To that end, significant restructuring of the organisation has already taken place alongside the completion of the independent review.”