British Cycling threatens riders about speaking out in leaked email

Responses could affect the 'ability to support' riders throughout the season

British Cycling has warned off their athletes from speaking out against the organisation following recent scandals. In an email leaked to The Times newspaper, new Technical Director Andy Harrison informed athletes that interview responses could play a role in British Cycling's 'ability to support you as the current season unfolds.'

The email was sent following the leaking of information regarding Simon Yates' positive for the asthma medication Terbutaline, and Shane Sutton's resignation as British Cycling Technical Director after sexism claims from Jess Varnish. It had also been uncovered that British Cycling kit was being sold online, and UK Sport had launched their own investigation.

"You will all be aware that we've had a bad week. I wanted to let you know where we are – and as many of you will be in a public and media environment this weekend, it is likely you will be asked to comment," the email from Harrison read, according toThe Times. "You are free to say yes or no to interviews, but how you respond will be a big factor in our ability to support you as the current season unfolds."

Athletes were then given a template answer when asked about the revelations about Yates: "The specific allegations that have been circulating in the media over the past week are extremely serious and I'm pleased to see that British Cycling and UK Sport are launching a full enquiry.

"I'm confident that they will get to the bottom of these allegations and that British Cycling will emerge stronger as a result."

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According to the Times, an unnamed rider questioned Harrison's email and the British Cycling Technical Director responded by apologising for his 'poor wording.'

"I want to apologise if the first line of the below email is misleading," Harrison's response read. "The intention of the sentence was to highlight that I want my (and the staff's) time to be focussed upon supporting you ('the riders').

"This week has been difficult. The serious issues raised are important and will be dealt with in the correct manner (as indicated in the original email). My hope is that I can spend less time reacting (as has been the necessity this week) and more time supporting the programme (staff and riders).

"I hope this makes sense. Once again I apologise if this genuine sentiment has been lost in a poorly constructed sentence. As always don't hesitate to contact me to discuss further."

British Cycling has been in turmoil over the past two months after Varnish criticised the organisation and made claims of sexism after she was dropped from the Olympic programme.

While some riders defended Sutton and British Cycling, there was plenty of criticism laid at their door by former athletes such as Victoria Pendleton and Nicole Cooke. There were also accusations of bullying and that Sutton had referred to para-cyclists as 'gimps' and 'wobblies.'

Sutton defended himself against the allegations but later resigned – after already being suspended – and an investigation into the claims has been launched. Harrison was appointed took over from Sutton with immediate effect.

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