British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington reflects on the past 12 months in the organisation's 2017 annual report
British Cycling has made ‘substantial progress’ over the past year in the wake of an independent review and UK Anti-Doping’s investigation into the organisation, says chief executive Julie Harrington.
The governing body for cycling has been under scrutiny after allegations of sexism and bullying levelled at team staff, and the controversy surrounding the contents of a jiffy bag delivered to Team Sky in France from BC’s headquarters in Manchester in 2011.
UKAD’s investigation concluded with no anti-doping charges brought against any party.
Harrington said in BC’s 2017 Annual Review that the past year has been one of “great change”, and that it will continue to strive to be a “world leading governing body”.
“The last 12 months have been ones of great change for British Cycling,” said Harrington.
“When an organisation has been as successful as we have over the last two decades it is right and proper that you are able to answer some tough questions.
“Substantial progress has been made and we will continue to welcome those tough questions. However, there can be no room for complacency and my first priority is to ensure that we can live up to our ambition to be a world leading governing body of which all our members can be proud of, and ultimately achieve our ambition of transforming Britain into a great cycling nation.”
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New BC performance director Stephen Park plays a part in that ambition as the person in charge of Great Britain’s cycling team. He stepped into BC in the midst of the fall-out from the allegations and investigations, and admits that he was apprehensive about the role.
“It has been over six months since I started in the role of performance director and I admit having followed the media coverage closely during the previous year I was apprehensive about what I was taking on,” said Park.
“My concerns were quickly dispelled and I soon realised I was working alongside a team of world-class coaching and support staff, all of whom are committed to achieving success in Tokyo in 2020 and beyond.
“This attitude is reflected within our talented squad of riders, and we have all been able to learn from the past and focus our attention, energy and drive on what it takes to win at the next Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
British Cycling also set out its plan for the future of cycling in Britain in its Annual Report, calling on Britain not to “miss a huge opportunity to change the future of our country”.
BC chair Jonathan Browning said: “We are ambitious about the contribution we can make to our sport and wider society. More people cycling will make our towns and cities better places to live, reduce congestion and ease the obesity crisis.
“Discovering or rediscovering the simple pleasure of riding a bike can help with mental as well as physical health and our growing network of clubs and volunteers are working to build a sport which is increasingly inclusive and diverse.”
BC will continue to campaign for improved cycling infrastructure on Britain’s roads, as well as more traffic-free facilities for cyclists and for use in cycle sport. This, writes Harrington, is important to encourage children to cycle and for parents to feel that it is safe for their children to cycle.
“Ultimately it is about deciding what society we want our children, and their children, to grow up in.
“As a parent myself, I can understand why mums and dads would not want their kids to cycle to school. Cycling is a really safe way to get around but, if we want more people to cycle across the board, then we need people to trust that it is safe.”