Olympic champion Callum Skinner fronts new athlete movement to combat harassment and doping

Global Athlete is aiming for positive change in the world of sport

Olympic track champion Callum Skinner has turned his attention to sport governance (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Olympic track champion Callum Skinner is at the forefront of a new athlete movement that aims to combat harassment and doping, and improve welfare in sport.

Global Athlete, which was launched on Wednesday (February 13), is hoping to inspire positive change in sport and give a louder voice to athletes.

Former deputy director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency Rob Koehler (WADA) will lead the organisation, while Skinner will play a leading role in mobilising athletes.

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Skinner, who was part of the gold medal winning team sprint squad at the Rio Olympics in 2016, said: “We want to reach out to athletes across the world to find common ground that all athletes, from east to west, can get behind.

“It may be issues such as better athlete welfare, harassment, ensuring that athletes receive some Olympic revenues or prize money, a more robust anti-doping system, or better representation at the top table of governance.”

Global Athlete aims to be an athlete rights movement that will listen to sportswomen and men and put forward their concerns.

The organisation is funded by FairSport, an independent foundation working to eradicate cheating in sport, and other individual donors.

It will also be independent from government, sport and anti-doping organisations.

Skinner added: “It’s 2019 and frankly speaking sports governance lags far behind other sectors of society in terms of engaging their constituents.

“As we’ve seen of late, athletes care deeply about how their sport is run, and they want an opportunity to provide input and to help shape sport’s future.”

Last summer, Skinner announced he would be taking a break from the track ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, instead focusing his attention on sport governance.

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But he said the Olympics were still on his mind and that he was still training to maintain his strength.

Rider representation in the professional peloton hit the headlines at the end of last season when a row broke out around the rider’s union, the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA).

Pros including Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas protested against the voting system the deemed unfair.

The Jess Varnish employment tribunal against British Cycling and UK sport was another key moment in the conversation around athlete welfare.

Varnish tried to prove she was an employee of the two bodies, so she could sue the organisations for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination. She lost the case.

Global Athlete’s director general Koehler said: “For too many years, athletes have been side-lined when speaking up – the fear of retribution must stop.

“Athletes are the ones that fill the stadiums and attract TV viewership and sponsors, so surely it is only right that they become a part of developing the sport that they want.

“There is a clear realisation that change has been demanded, and change is now coming.”

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