Bullying report was covered up

British cyclists competing in the men's team pursuit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Great Britain were the most successful cycling nation at last year's Games, winning six golds. But the country's most successful and best-funded sports governing bod
British cyclists competing in the men's team pursuit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Great Britain were the most successful cycling nation at last year's Games, winning six golds. But the country's most successful and best-funded sports governing body is under fire for not providing the full details of a 2012 report to the national funding agency.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Peak UK body claims cycling bosses gave them watered-down version of allegations

LONDON • British Cycling covered up a critical internal review in 2012 which reported allegations of bullying of riders, UK Sport's chief executive has claimed.

Liz Nicholl said that her organisation had instead been sent a watered-down summary of the report, in what she described as "unacceptable" conduct by the governing body.

The 2012 review was carried out by Peter King, British Cycling's former chief executive, based on anonymous interviews with more than 40 riders and staff, and reportedly included allegations of a "culture of fear" under Shane Sutton, the former head coach.

The alleged cover-up is set to form part of the findings of an independent investigation into British Cycling due to be published before April.

UK Sport is providing £26 million (S$46.12 million) to cycling in the run up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 but this funding is conditional on the governing body demonstrating that it has put its house in order.

"With the Peter King report, we had no knowledge of the significance of it," Nicholl said.

"What we received from British Cycling at the time was a summary of what the report was saying that did not raise any alarm bells at all.

"That's a complete lack of transparency and that's a relationship that is not acceptable in terms of what was shared with us, as opposed to what the actual facts of that report were."

Asked if it had been a cover-up, Nicholl nodded, adding: "We wouldn't expect that to happen. We would've expected to receive the full report."

In response, British Cycling issued a statement saying "key findings" of King's review were released to UK Sport.

"Contributions were made with a guarantee of anonymity, so key findings and recommendations were shared in briefings with UK Sport and the British Cycling board," the statement said, adding that the full report was made available to the independent review, jointly commissioned by UK Sport and British Cycling last year.

Nicholl has reported the alleged cover-up to the independent investigation being carried out by Annamarie Phelps, the chairman of British Rowing.

She added that the accountable officer at British Cycling at the time was Ian Drake, who stepped down as chief executive last month.

Brian Cookson, now president of the International Cycling Union (UCI), was president of British Cycling at the time and Dave Brailsford was performance director.

Sutton, head coach at the Beijing and London Olympics, was made technical director in 2014. He resigned last April amid accusations of sexism, discrimination and bullying, which he strenuously denies.

Drake was not available for comment, and sources close to Brailsford said that he did not know what had been in the summary. King said that he was unaware of what was in the version of his report given by British Cycling to UK Sport.

"The honest truth is I don't know what version of my report was shared with UK Sport, either then or now," he said.

"What I do know is that a lot of people told me things in my report that they would have expected to see acted upon. And I don't want them to think it was my fault that they haven't been."

Rod Carr, the chairman of UK Sport, said: "Bullying, and the sorts of things that are alleged to have gone on, absolutely are not acceptable."

He also defended the delays in publishing the report and insisted that it would not be watered down.

"We're working to get it right, not get it out to a timetable," he said.

"We don't want a situation where somebody who might be called a whistleblower is so traduced by the establishment that nobody ever comes forward again. So, that's one of the reasons we've got to get this right, not just get it done."

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Bullying report was covered up'. Print Edition | Subscribe