Sir Chris Hoy believes that the media coverage of allegations of bullying within British Cycling has been sensationalised, but adds that an upside to this is that the “small percentage” of riders with grievances now know they are being listened to.
British Cycling this week appointed former Sony and Maersk Line executive Michael Chivers as a ‘people director’ in the wake of a series of discrimination allegations.
Referring on his website to the various stories that led to this appointment, Hoy said: “It’s upsetting and incredibly sad to read, but I feel bound to say, these are not experiences I recognise from my time at British Cycling.”
Hoy said that members of the British Cycling squad all had the same network of support as he did, but adds: “Clearly a small percentage of the team felt that support didn’t meet their expectations at all times during their careers.
“Each and every one of those riders has the right to be respected and for their grievances to be heard. Every organisation has a responsibility to stamp out bullying and/or discrimination. I believe this very public mudslinging and media coverage has been sensationalised in many ways, however one very important upside is that those riders know they are now being listened to.”
Chivers’ arrival coincides with the introduction of a 39-point action plan agreed with UK Sport, the governmental agency that provides British Cycling’s elite funding and which ordered an independent review into allegations of bullying and discrimination.
Hoy said: “From what I read and understand through various conversations, British Cycling recognises they’ve fallen short in a number of areas. They’ve now outlined a 39 point plan to ensure the right processes are in place to deal with these issues. This will not only protect the riders, but must equally importantly also protect the coaches and support staff too, whose own reputations have been damaged irreparably over the past 12 months.”
He then went on to defend the governing body from accusations of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
“Some may argue too little too late, but even for those who did feel let down by British Cycling in the past, it’s encouraging to know that British Cycling is now engaging with those riders. I don’t doubt for one second that every single person involved in this process has the interests of our sport at heart.”