Shane Sutton has claimed that the leadership at British Cycling is ‘in disarray’ after the national body made a number of high profile management changes.
Sutton resigned from his post as technical director in the spring of 2016 amid accusations of sexism and bullying. An investigation later cleared Sutton of all but one of the charges against him but found that he used sexist language, including the word "bitches," towards track sprinter Jessica Varnish, who has since filed a lawsuit against British Cycling and UK Sport.
Management changes in the last 18 months include Julie Harington coming in as CEO to replace Ian Drake, and Stephen Park joining as the performance director to fill Dave Brailsford’s old position. Heiko Salzwedel, who guided the British men to gold in the team pursuit at the Rio 2016 Olympics, is technically still an employee but is on gardening leave in Germany, while Richard Freeman has also left following his involvement in the ‘Jiffybag’ investigation led by UKAD and subsequent health issues.
On top of that, Jonathan Browning is set to step down as chair of British Cycling in December, just nine months into the role. Bob Howden stepped down as Chairman in February but remains as British Cycling President and is standing unopposed for re-election at British Cycling’s AGM this weekend.
“You’ve only got to look at the exodus of people. For me, everything starts with leadership and then you’ve got your coaching and then you’ve got your talent. It looks to be in disarray,” Sutton told Cyclingnews.
“If look at the board now you’ve lost the likes of Bob Howden and Brian Cookson. You’d think they’d now need to look to Brian and take some advice from him. These have been people from inside cycling for years and there’s no leadership there now. It’s disarray.”
The treatment of the management had gone too far
Results of a further independent review released earlier this year upheld claims that there was a 'culture of fear' within British Cycling but Sutton stated his opinion that changes and the treatment of the management had gone too far.
“I don’t see the point of all the big changes from a leadership perspective. Some of the board have given their [working] lives and it’s been a massively successful journey and they’re no longer part of the governance. It’s crazy. It’s crazy.”
Sutton has since taken up the role of leading China’s national track programme and he returned to Manchester for the first time at last weekend’s World Cup.
Great Britain had a successful three days, winning three gold, one silver and three bronze medals. Sutton told the BBC on Saturday that the support he had received from British Cycling staff and riders had been overwhelming, and that he was ‘loved’, although one source told Cyclingnews that British Cycling staff were told to stay away from the Australian during the event.
Sutton added that he would still support the British riders.
“At the end of the day I want to see British Cycling go on and be successful. There are great guys I’ve worked with there for years and I love all the riders there. I want to see them carry on being successful.”