The publication of a report into claims of bullying within the Great Britain team has been postponed again until May but the British Cycling chairman, Jonathan Browning, is determined to push on with his response to the independent review’s initial findings.
The review, set up last April after several former riders came forward with allegations of discrimination, inappropriate behaviour and sexism, initially aimed to release its key findings by the end of November.
The Rio Olympics and the amount of evidence received by the panel made that deadline unlikely but a draft report was delivered to the boards of British Cycling and UK Sport before Christmas.
Since then the review has become held back by legal wrangling, as those criticised have rejected the panel’s findings and the process has been criticised for not seeking a wider range of views.
British Cycling, which has been under a cloud ever since the former technical director Shane Sutton quit a year ago, became so frustrated by the delays that it announced its response to the review six weeks ago and has now, as promised, provided an update. Browning said: “I wouldn’t want anybody to think that we’re sitting here shellshocked at what has happened – I’ve been really encouraged with the progress we’ve made already. We’re where we said we would be and we have not missed any deadlines in terms of delivering the action plan. This is an organisation that is committed to doing what it said it would do.”
Browning, who took over as chairman in February, outlined the overhaul in terms of leadership at the governing body, with the new performance director Stephen Park at this week’s World Track Cycling Championships in Hong Kong for his first mission, the new chief executive, Julie Harrington, starting in May and the organisation’s first people director, Michael Chivers, already starting to make a difference.
Chivers is overseeing a staff culture survey that will be repeated for the riders and coaches after the world championships, with former riders also asked to contribute. He is consulting on how to give athletes a formal voice within the governing body and aiming to improve how British Cycling identifies and nurtures talent.
Browning said the organisation was working closely with Sport England and UK Sport to ensure it meets the sports minister Tracey Crouch’s new governance code.
To achieve that – and to receive the £43m it has been allocated over the next four years – British Cycling will have to hold an extraordinary general meeting in July in order to vote through the required changes to its governance structure, as the next annual general meeting is not until November. Browning said the organisation will be consulting its clubs and regional officials throughout June to explain the reforms.
There are also tough decisions to announce in terms of the makeup of the elite squad, given that UK Sport has cut cycling’s funding for Tokyo 2020 by £4m from that of Rio 2016.
In addition there is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding UK Anti-Doping’s seven-month investigation into allegations of wrongdoing within the set-ups of British Cycling and Team Sky.