General election may delay British Cycling 'bullying' report

Tom Cary
The Telegraph
Jess Varnish alleged that Shane Sutton had discriminated against her - Copyright (c) 2012 Rex Features. No use without permission.
Jess Varnish alleged that Shane Sutton had discriminated against her - Copyright (c) 2012 Rex Features. No use without permission.

The already hugely delayed independent report into the climate and culture within British Cycling’s world-class performance programme could be delayed still ­further by the calling of a snap ­general election on June 8.

Sources with knowledge of the report have indicated to The Telegraph that there is uncertainty within UK Sport about whether it will be affected by purdah, the ­pre-election period which prevents government bodies from making announcements about any new or controversial initiatives. 

A spokesman for UK Sport said it was awaiting purdah guidance from the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

The controversial report has been nearly 12 months in the making, having been launched at the end of April last year following allegations of bullying and sexism against former technical director Shane Sutton.

It was due to be published at the end of last year. A draft was first ­circulated to the two commissioning bodies, UK Sport and British Cycling, at Christmas time, since when it has been bogged down by legal challenges.

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A draft leaked last month was highly critical of British ­Cycling, accusing the board of ­‘sanitising’ its own report into allegations of discrimination made by rider Jess Varnish against Sutton. The draft concluded there was a “culture of fear” at cycling’s national governing body, adding that it suffered from “dysfunctional leadership” and a lack of good governance.

British Cycling has already taken steps to address many of the issues flagged up, bringing in a new chairman, chief executive and performance director, and launching a 39-point “action plan”.

However, since the draft report was leaked, a number of riders and staff – who did not speak to the independent panel last year – have said they do not recognise the negative portrayal of British Cycling. There have now been calls for the panel to reinterview those riders to give a more ­balanced final report.

Brian Cookson, the president of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, and for 17 years president of British Cycling, told The Telegraph last week that he was confident the final report would be much changed from the leaked draft. “I believe the draft is only a partial investigation and that’s ­reflected by the content,” he said. Cookson was not initially consulted by the panel but has now given evidence.

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