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Cookson sought meeting with panel investigating British Cycling

UCI President Brian Cookson looks on during a press conference on mechanical fraud, in Paris, on June 27, 2016.

UCI President Brian Cookson looks on during a press conference on mechanical fraud, in Paris, on June 27, 2016.

After an independent panel looking into allegations of sexism and bullying at British Cycling drafted a critical report, UCI President and former head of the British federation Brian Cookson sought an interview with the panel’s members, according to a recent report in The Guardian.

British Cycling and UK Sport set up the five-member panel last year to look into the allegations first raised by former Olympic track sprinter Jess Varnish. A copy of the initial draft report that was finished late last year and was leaked to the British media earlier this month was extremely critical of British Cycling’s culture of “winning at all cost.”

The Guardian reported that Cookson was apparently disappointed that he was not given a chance to defend the federation to the panel. Correspondence obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Press Association revealed that panel chairwoman Annamarie Phelps amended her initial report to include a subsequent interview with Cookson and a number of new “submissions.”

The Guardian reported that the new submissions were related “to several contributions the panel received after its original cut-off of 30 November from people with a more positive take on life within the Great Britain cycling team, as a lack of balance in the draft had been flagged up by British Cycling’s board.”

Meanwhile, the official release of the final report has been delayed several times because of legal wrangling among the stakeholders about how much would be public. Concerns over the privacy of those who were interviewed were raised, while Phelps wanted to ensure the report “faithfully” reflects the panel’s findings.

Phelps also warned UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl and British Cycling board member Marian Lauderany that any further direction from the boards “would potentially undermine the independence of the report,” according to The Guardian.

British Cycling and UK Sport eventually asked Phelps to expand the report to allow those criticized a formal right to reply, and British Cycling would be allowed to reveal a 39-point response before the report’s publication.

The Guardian reported that the panel received replies from Dave Brailsford, former chief executive Ian Drake and the former technical director Shane Sutton, and the members are now working on the final report with no word on when it will be released.