Senior figures at the funding body UK Sport told its in-house governance unit to “go easy” on British Cycling because “that’s where the medals come from”, more than two years before Jess Varnish made public allegations of bullying and sexism, the Guardian has been told. Other UK Sport insiders have also come forward to tell of their deepening unease about a culture where the zeal to beat the London 2012 medal haul at the Rio Olympics dominated everything and led to less-strict governance checks than they felt were required. As one senior source told the Guardian: “With cycling, the UK Sport governance team felt they couldn’t ever go firm on them on any issue because they would come under pressure from the performance guys if they started poking around too much. No one wanted to disrupt the medal factory. It had the status of a special sport.” The allegations will ramp up the pressure on UK Sport, which will invest £345m in lottery … [Read more...] about UK Sport ‘went easy’ on British Cycling to keep medal factory functioning
Laureus world sports award for sportsman of the year
So wheelchair rugby will not be funded for the Tokyo cycle. According to Liz Nicholl, the CEO of UK Sport, who gave me the news this morning, this is not because wheelchair rugby has no potential to medal in Tokyo, but because there is just not enough resource to go round. The implications of this are significant – there is little or no likelihood that Great Britain will have a national wheelchair rugby team and certainly not one which can compete with the best in the world. GB is currently ranked fifth in the world and only lost to Australia, the Rio gold medallists, by two points in extra time. Where does this leave the 2012 legacy? In 2012 wheelchair rugby had seven teams in the country and no real performance system in place. Since then the sport has grown to 22 teams and it continues to grow with new clubs in Norwich and Brighton about to come on line. We are also now delivering programmes in military recovery centres, spinal injury units and as part of rugby foundations … [Read more...] about As wheelchair rugby flourishes why is it the only Paralympic sport not funded?
Football will not be coming home in eight years' time after it emerged England had crashed out in the first round of voting, securing just two votes, and Fifa instead awarded the tournament to Russia. Some members of a grim-faced England bid team, including the mayor of London Boris Johnson and former England captain Gary Lineker, retreated to the back of the hall as it emerged that England had been knocked out in the first round. England's representative on Fifa's executive committee, Geoff Thompson, counted for one vote, while Japan provided the other. A late final lobbying push led by the prime minister David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince William and a well-received final presentation was not enough to avoid a humiliating exit and spark huge recriminations. The final stages of the race have been marked by allegations of corruption and collusion that led to a backlash against the British media among some Fifa executives. The England bid team went into today's vote believing they … [Read more...] about England beaten as Russia win 2018 World Cup bid
The London marathon is a great event. Mass participation as well as elite performance, young and old, the fast and the slow; our great capital city and its citizens once again proving what a superlative show they can put on. But imagine a marathon where the men run 26 miles and 385 yards but the “girlies” event is, say, 15 miles. The men get all the glory and TV coverage as they are doing a “proper job” while the girls are “allowed” to be there on the day. That would be sexual discrimination by design. The rewards would follow the coverage, so the men would get the prizes and the girls some token gifts. Welcome to the reality in the world of elite cycling where sexism is by design. And cycling is not alone. When challenged, those at the top of these sports are well versed in the platitudes they need to put out to deflect the temporary criticism. A well-crafted statement of intent, a desire to rectify; but the reality is decades of inaction. Sexism … [Read more...] about Nicole Cooke: welcome to the world of elite cycling where sexism is by design
For some onlookers it felt like they were in a scene from Twenty Twelve, the spoof documentary set in the buildup to the London Olympics. Only it was happening in the offices of UK Sport, the body responsible for pouring millions of pounds of public money into elite sport, two years before the Rio Games. “It’s all about 66/121,” announced Simon Timson, the organisation’s director of performance at the time, before explaining how surpassing Team GB’s tally in London 2012 of 65 Olympic and 120 Paralympic medals would inspire the nation. “Yeah! 66/121,” agreed his deputy, Chelsea Warr. The phrase quickly became a mantra in internal UK Sport meetings, as did another one: GSD – Get Shit Done. As one observer wryly noted: “They had a real hard-on for that Silicon Valley management speak. But some us thought they sounded more like David Brent.” UK Sport insists that “aspirational goals” such as 66/121 were “really … [Read more...] about GSD and 66/121: the buzzwords behind UK Sport’s manic desire for medals