UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl has warned British Cycling its future funding is dependent on it “restoring credibility” following investigations into allegations of bullying, discrimination and doping.
Nicholl delivered the warning at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, where she was appearing with British Cycling’s new chairman Jonathan Browning to announce the governing body’s response to claims of bullying and sexism first made by former Great Britain track rider Jess Varnish last April.
But British Cycling’s 39-step “action plan” to improve athlete and staff welfare was overtaken by events on Wednesday in London, where the boss of UK Anti-Doping Nicole Sapstead updated MPs on her agency’s five-month investigation into denied allegations of wrongdoing at British Cycling and Team Sky, its professional road racing offspring.
Sapstead told the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) select committee that British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman had failed to follow guidelines on keeping and sharing treatment records for star rider Sir Bradley Wiggins, and that the governing body had no idea if drugs in its medical store were for its riders or Team Sky’s.
Sapstead also said UKAD was no closer to solving the mystery at the heart of its investigation: what was in a jiffy bag hand-delivered to Freeman by a British Cycling coach at the end of the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine, a Tour de France warm-up race.
Because no records exist to confirm if the package contained the legal but unlicensed decongestant Fluimucil or the banned and potent corticosteroid Kenalog, she said UKAD was still unsure if Freeman and Wiggins broke anti-doping rules – an allegation both deny.
British Cycling responded to Sapstead’s stinging critique of its record-keeping with a penitent statement that admitted “serious failings” in the past and promised an external audit of its current practices.
It is understood the governing body – which, as well as having a new chairman, is about to welcome a new performance director and name a new chief executive – has already been in talks with the Care Quality Commission about conducting the audit.
“I think the new leadership has to restore the credibility of British Cycling by the actions they are planning to take,” said Nicholl.
“So the actions that are in this (welfare) action plan and the actions that align with (Sports Minister Tracey Crouch’s) sports governance code will all be part of the funding agreement we have with British Cycling.”