UK Sport to conduct ‘root-and-branch review’ of high performance system
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UK Sport to conduct ‘root-and-branch review’ of high performance system

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Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, has conceded that the quango must be “more alert” to potential issues within the world class performance systems it funds, and has kick-started a culture-related “root-and branch-review”.

Following the publication of an independent review into the culture of British Cycling’s World Class Programme – which detailed a “lack” of good governance and a perceived “culture of fear” – UK Sport has developed a six-point action plan to guard against similar environments being fostered in the future.

“Our focus at UK Sport, our priority, was to look at ways that we could ensure all athletes in the future across all our world class programmes could have confidence that any grievances will be dealt with fairly, effectively and appropriately,” said Nicholl, “recognising that if we can get this right then an independent review of this sought should be commissioned by exception. It should not be the norm.”

Nicholl played down suggestions of a “crisis” within the British world class sporting system despite similar accusation surfacing in canoeing and bobsleighing and stressed that “opportunities missed” by UK Sport to eradicate negative behaviours in the past will not be repeated.

The review of culture across the high performance system is one of the six actions being taken by UK Sport to underline this.

It has also hired its first head of sport integrity, John Donnelly, to advise on policies for handling and reviewing cultural behaviours. Donnelly has 36 years of military experience in a predominantly operational capacity.

Other plans laid out by UK Sport include the strengthening of its case management capabilities to “ensure full and effective accountability”, making sure any internal reviews conducted by governing bodies are seen by UK Sport, and that funded sports establish “appropriate channels for the voice of athletes”.

British Cycling’s Tokyo 2020 grant will be monitored closely against all the recommendations laid out in the independent review. Funding will be reviewed annually every December.

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Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, has conceded that the quango must be “more alert” to potential issues within the world class performance systems it funds, and has kick-started a culture-related “root-and branch-review”.
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