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Joseph Bryan on “5 Things You Need to Know” about the Independent Cycling Review Report

Who were the members of the Independent Panel?

Annamarie Phelps CBE (Chair): Chairman of British Rowing, Vice-Chair of the British Olympic Association, Trustee of the British Paralympic Association, rowing world champion and Olympian.

Stuart Lancaster: Senior Coach at Leinster Rugby, former Head Coach of England and the RFU’s Elite Rugby Director, and former rugby player.

John Mehrzad: Barrister at Littleton Chambers specialised in sports, employment and commercial law, and independent Chairman of the FA determining misconduct charges involving alleged acts of discrimination.

Annie Panter: Olympic hockey medallist, member of International Hockey Federation, co-Chair of Athletes’ Commission, Member of UK Sports’ Mission 2016/18 Panel.

Jude Kelly CBE: Artistic Director of Southbank Centre and member of London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Who commissioned the Independent Panel?

The Panel was jointly commissioned by UK Sport and British Cycling. The Commissioning Board was comprised of:

  • Liz Nicholl CBE, Chief Executive of UK Sport.

  • Marion Lauder MBE, Independent Director of British Cycling.

What was the remit of the Independent Panel?

The Panel was given a broad remit to investigate the culture and climate within British Cycling’s World Class Programme following allegations made by Jess Varnish about former Technical Director, Shane Sutton.  The Panel was not tasked with determining the grievance raised by Jess Varnish or any anti-doping issues, which were matters for British Cycling and UK Anti-Doping respectively.

The Panel was given absolute discretion to identify its period of reference and methods of investigation.  The period looked at closely was the 2012-16 Olympiad, albeit with reference to some earlier events.  The Panel’s investigations lasted about 6-months. There were 108 written contributions and 44 interviews took place.

What are the Report’s key findings?

In summary, whilst the Report recognises the resounding success of British Cycling’s World Class Programme from a pure medal-perspective, it also finds that:

  • Good governance was lacking at Board level in relation to how it managed culture and behaviours with the addressing of findings about those matters in an earlier 2012 report having not being prioritised.
  • Staff within the World Class Programme were overwhelmingly demoralised and often referred to a culture of fear.
  • Athlete views, both non-disabled and para-athletes, were polarised, with some reporting negative experiences whilst others gave more positive views or did not contribute to the review.

What are the Report’s key recommendations?

There are 5 key recommendations:

  1. Leadership within the Board and the World Class Programme needs to change.
  2. The Board, in particular its new CEO, and UK Sport, must together engage and monitor the WCP.
  3. Training and development needs to be rolled out, in terms of staff training and development as well as athlete leadership and empowerment.
  4. Selection procedures (for events and membership of the WCP) need to be improved.
  5. Continued UK Sport funding should be conditional on the implementation of the Report’s recommendations.

This commentary was written by Joseph Bryan

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