As an independent investigation into an abusive culture in British Cycling's high-performance programme faces further delays, the federation has come up against more criticism from UK Sport after it was revealed that a similar internal inquiry had taken place in 2012 but was not acted upon.
The Guardian reported Tuesday that former British Cycling CEO Peter King conducted a post-London Olympic Games performance review, interviewing more than 40 different riders and staff from the programme, but UK Sport only saw the full report in 2016.
UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said that had her organisation seen the full report, it could have addressed serious issues such as those raised by sprinter Jess Varnish that led to the resignation of Shane Sutton before they became a problem. "Yes, of course. But what we received from them as a summary of what the report was saying did not raise any alarm bells at all," Nicholl told The Guardian.
Nicholl stopped short of saying the report was covered up but said that only delivering a summary to UK Sport was a "complete lack of transparency".
"We wouldn't expect that to happen," she We would have expected to receive the full report at the time. That's a complete lack of transparency and that's a relationship that is not acceptable in terms of what was shared with us as opposed to what the actual facts of that report were."
King collected input from staff and riders on the condition of anonymity, but the report was kept internal to British Cycling and only shown to a select few. Ian Drake was CEO at the time the report was delivered to British Cycling, and Brian Cookson was president.
British Cycling argues that it properly briefed UK Sport and its board of directors. "Contributions were made with a guarantee of anonymity, so key findings and recommendations were shared in briefings with UK Sport and the British Cycling board," BC said.
King, however, said he was not aware that the full report was not shared. "The honest truth is, I don't know what version of my report was shared with UK Sport, either then or now," King said. "And I don't really want to say anything about all of this until the independent report comes out. As far as I'm aware, my original report was delivered to Ian Drake and I don't know how much further it went after that.
"What I do know is that a lot of people told me things in my report that they would have expected to see acted upon," King said. "And I don't want them to think it was my fault that they haven't been."
Meanwhile, the expected publication of the independent inquiry into the culture at British Cycling's high-performance programme is still delayed. Nicholl said that it might be another month before it is released, as it is heavily redacted to protect witnesses.
"We want to protect the anonymity of those athletes who have come forward in good faith and do not want their futures to be compromised," she said. "We've also got a duty to towards all the people named in the report, and we're taking every step to make sure that it's a fair report that will stand up to scrutiny by the media and lawyers and everybody else, and that takes a long time. And when it's ready, we'll be ready."
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British Cycling will present its 'action plan' to staff and riders on March 1, and Nicholl told the BBC it would be focused on better athlete welfare and more oversight of the programme.
"There's no excuse for not addressing duty of care responsibilities to athletes," said Nicholl. "There's no excuse for not putting athletes first.
"They are the ones who'll deliver the medals, and every programme should be trying to ensure they have happy and successful athletes and there probably hasn't been enough attention in sport about how they do things."