British Cycling review into sexism and bullying claims is not a whitewash, insists chair Annamarie Phelps

Frank Dalleres
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Press Briefing for Publication of Independent Review into Culture and Climate of World Class Programme in British Cycling
Annamarie Phelps said the panel's report was still "quite strong" (Source: Getty)

The chair of a review into allegations of sexism and bullying at British Cycling has denied suggestions that the long-awaited report has been whitewashed.

British Cycling, former technical director Shane Sutton and UK Sport are all strongly criticised in the report, which was commissioned following claims made by rider Jess Varnish more than a year ago.

A “culture of fear” permeated the team, Sutton operated largely unchecked in a “power pocket”, while “good governance was lacking” among British Cycling’s board, the report stated.

Read more: UK Sport and GB Taekwondo in spotlight over welfare claims

Yet critics say the findings have been watered down, with an alleged draft version of the review reportedly delivering a much stronger rebuke and effectively accusing British Cycling of a cover-up.

“I don’t believe it’s a whitewash,” said British Rowing chair Annamarie Phelps, who led the five-person independent review panel.

“I think it’s quite a strong report with very strong recommendations and very strong criticisms. I don’t think there has a shift in tone. I think we have been as strong.

“We’ve changed some of the wording [from the draft report]. The panel collectively looked at the wording very carefully before we decided on a final version.”

High-performance system to be reviewed

UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl added that UK Sport’s medal-oriented approach was not “win-at-all-costs”, calling the notion “frankly disturbing and wrong”.

Nicholl said UK Sport would begin a wide-ranging review into the culture of its high-performance system, which has also seen complaints made in relation to taekwondo – as City A.M. revealed last month – as well as bobsleigh, swimming and canoeing.

British Cycling chair Jonathan Browning said: “We accept, in full, the recommendations in the review and apologise for where we have failed or fallen short of the standards which we should have achieved.”

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