LONDON (AFP) — British Cycling chairman Jonathan Browning on Thursday vowed to address the doping controversy rocking his organization and apologized after accusations of bullying against leading cyclists.
Browning was responding to an investigation into the culture at British Cycling after former riders, including Great Britain’s Jess Varnish, complained about their treatment.
He said his governing body is planning to address any “failings” and also pledged to deal with concerns raised by British MPs at a select committee hearing into doping.
“Where there are failings we apologize,” Browning told the BBC. “Athlete and participant welfare is our highest priority. We deeply regret any instance where we have failed to deliver.
“My ambition for athletes is anyone leaving program says, ‘I would recommend it to my younger brother or sister.’”
Browning, who only took on the role of British Cycling chairman last month, is keen to resolve the row over doping which continues to plague the sport.
UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) boss Nicole Sapstead on Wednesday told MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee that British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman had failed to follow team and professional guidelines on keeping and sharing records of the treatment he gave former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
The governing body had no idea if drugs in its medical store were intended for its riders or Team Sky’s, Sapstead said.
Browning, who only took on the role of British Cycling chairman last month, said, “We’re still looking for clear answers. Not only do we need to be clean, but we have to be able to demonstrate it.
“I’ve not come across any evidence of cheating. I’ve found an organization that’s changed quickly and needs to reset its priorities — it’s something we are going to fix.”
Meanwhile Liz Nicholl, chief executive of funding agency UK Sport, admitted the doping situation was unacceptable and may impact future financial aid for cycling if improvements aren’t made.
“I think the revelations were shocking but I am reassured that British Cycling has moved very quickly to address the issues,” she said. “The new leadership has to restore the credibility of British Cycling by the actions they take. These actions will be taken into account when future funding decisions are made.”