Staff speak of 'culture of fear' and 'dictatorial regime' at British Cycling

Independent report criticises British Cycling's World Class Programme

British Cycling HQ

(Image credit: Russ Ellis)

An independent report into allegations of sexism and bullying within British Cycling has criticised the actions of former technical director Shane Sutton, the BC board, and UK Sport.

According to the much-delayed report, staff members spoke about a "culture of fear" within the elite-level World Class Programme, saying that they were scared to criticise British Cycling for fear of retribution and possibly losing their jobs.

These problems ramped up in the build up to the London 2012 Olympics, when the pressure for success increased and Shane Sutton presided over a "dictatorial regime".

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Concerns about this were apparently raised by an internal report in November 2012, however the British Cycling board failed to act on the report, allowing a regime to continue that had "little interest in focusing on athletes as people" and discouraged athletes from having outside interests.

UK Sport is also the subject of criticism as it was aware of some of the problems within British Cycling highlighted in the November 2012 report, but failed to make BC's funding conditional to implementing changes.

The report also found that there was different treatment for different disciplines, with non-track riders saying that they were treated like "second-class citizens", and Shane Sutton, who resigned as technical director in April 2016, used discriminatory language towards female and disabled athletes.

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Reacting to the report, British Cycling chair Jonathan Browning said that changes were already being made to the way the organisation operates.

“It is clear from the report that our structures and procedures, especially at the leadership level within the World Class Programme (WCP), were lacking. Since the findings were shared with us, we have rapidly made major changes to the WCP and to our leadership, operations and governance so that we can ensure that British Cycling learns these lessons and becomes a world class governing body.

“The report states that the experiences of some people on the WCP were not representative of the whole. However this does not diminish the seriousness of the allegations. We hear those criticisms clearly and have and are, committed to acting on them."

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