Problems for British Cycling seem far from over after Performance Director Shane Sutton resigned last month over allegations of discrimination.
The issues made headlines when sprinter Jess Varnish made allegations that Sutton told her to “go and have a baby” after she was dropped from the Olympic squad having made negative remarks about its organisation.
The Governing Body is now under an independent review but a leaked email suggests riders are not being allowed to have their say.
An email published by The Times newspaper is said to have been sent on April 29 from interim Performance Manager, Andy Harrison, stating:
“[you are] free to say yes or no to interviews, but how you respond will be a big factor in our ability to support you as the current season unfolds”.
He allegedly added guidance to riders around how to answer media questions on the case, saying:
“It is highly likely that you will be asked for a comment over the weekend. As stated, your response will be a big factor going forward. If asked about this week’s events, we ask that you reflect the following messaging:
- The specific allegations that have been circulating in the media over the past week are extremely serious and I’m pleased to see that British Cycling and UK Sport are launching a full inquiry
- I’m confident that they will get to the bottom of these allegations and that British Cycling will emerge stronger as a result.”
Following the email, reports state that a rider replied to question the sentiments at which point Harrison issued another circular email stating:
“I want to apologise if the first line of the below email is misleading. The intention of the sentence was to highlight that I want my (and the staff’s) time to be focussed upon supporting you (‘the riders’).”
He also added: “This week has been difficult. The serious issues raised are important and will be dealt with in the correct manner (as indicated in the original email). My hope is that I can spend less time reacting (as has been the necessity this week) and more time supporting the programme (staff and riders).
“I hope this makes sense. Once again I apologise if this genuine sentiment has been lost in a poorly constructed sentence. As always don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss further.”
British Cycling have once again been forced to give a statement, stating:
“Shortly after the initial email, a rider asked Andy about the opening paragraph. Andy immediately apologised and issued a quick clarification as riders have been told throughout recent weeks that they are free to speak of their own experiences to the media. Andy’s note was intended to ask the riders to consider the independent review as the best forum for raising concerns about behaviours in the team.”
The saga continues…