British Cycling board faces major shake-up after governance changes

Fallout from Varnish-Sutton investigation continues

Many of the directors on the British Cycling board could be replaced in July as part of shake-up of the governing body following a string of scandals and investigations.

Great Britain continued to be successful on the track at the 2016 Rio Olympics but the national governing body has been in turmoil since former Great Britain track sprinter Jess Varnish made allegations of sexism against former technical director Shane Sutton more than a year ago.

Those and other claims were investigated by an independent panel, with the report due to be published after the British general election, possibly on June 14. However a preliminary version of the report was leaked to the Daily Mail newspaper in March, with UK Sport – the body that oversees sport in Britain, criticising British Cycling for the "sanitising" of the findings. The investigation ended with Sutton being found guilty of one relatively minor offence from the nine with which he was charged. The board's handling of the controversy was branded 'inept'.

Sutton, who has always maintained his innocence, quit in April 2016, with former chief executive Ian Drake leaving his post in January. British Cycling has also been dragged into the UK Anti-Doping investigation into possible wrongdoing at Team Sky after it emerged there were no medical records of a shared pharmacy at the Manchester velodrome. That investigation is still ongoing.

Since the problems, British Cycling has appointed Jonathan Browning as new chairman, brought in Julie Harrington from the Football Association as chief executive, hired a new human resources boss and revamped its code of conduct to better protect athletes. Browning, however, is under fire for being part of the longstanding board.

UK Sport has promised British Cycling £26 million for the Olympic and Paralympic teams' preparations for Tokyo 2020 and Sport England has allocated £17million to British Cycling to boost cycling participation. But the funding is dependent on a new, stricter governance code introduced by sports minister Tracey Crouch that aims to raise leadership standards across sport after several allegations of malpractice in British sport.

The reforms have to be voted on by British Cycling's 130,000-strong membership. The next annual general meeting was scheduled for November but British Cycling has been forced to call an extraordinary general meeting for July 22.

The introduction of a limit for directors of three terms of three years will spark a huge change to the British Cycling board, with six of the eight elected members on the current board obliged to stand down. Bob Howden, the president who endured a chastening appearance in front of British MPs in December, will no longer be on the board. Instead the new 12-strong board will be made up four independents, four elected members, an independent chair, the CEO and an elected member from Scotland and Wales.

Browning will have to reapply if he wants to continue as independent chairman via an open recruitment process. According to several reports, the former motor industry executive is said to be considering his options and will decide on what he wants to do after the July Extraordinary General Meeting.
 

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