British Cycling: Independent review ordered into 'disturbing' claims

British Rowing chief Annamarie Phelps
Phelps is the chair of British Rowing, a trustee and vice-chair of the British Paralympic Association, a board member of the British Olympic Association and rowed for Britain at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics

British Cycling is launching a review chaired by British Rowing chief Annamarie Phelps to uncover whether there are "fundamental behavioural issues" in its World Class Programme.

The review, co-commissioned by UK Sport, comes after British Cycling's technical director Shane Sutton quit amid sexism and discrimination claims.

British Cycling chief Bob Howden said the claims were "extremely disturbing".

He added: "We will not shy away from taking whatever action is necessary."

The review will begin imminently and will conclude following the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games "to minimise the disruption to British Cycling's final preparations for Rio", a statement read.

Separate Sutton investigation will continue

Sutton resigns amid discrimination row

Sutton resigned on Wednesday amid claims he used derogatory words to describe Para-cyclists. An investigation has already been launched to look into that case, as well as rider Jess Varnish's accusations that Sutton made sexist comments and told her to "go and have a baby".

Sutton "rejects the specific claims" but said the allegations against him had "become a distraction" to British athletes before this summer's Rio Olympics.

The investigations into Sutton's behaviour will remain separate from the joint review, although "lessons learnt by British Cycling from this separate investigation should be incorporated", the statement added.

A third inquiry was ordered on Thursday amid separate claims that official British Cycling kit was available to buy online. British Cycling denied any equipment provided by UK Sport had been given away or sold on for profit but said other unwanted kit from commercial partners is sold or given away.

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'Valuable lessons to learn'

In a statement, it was confirmed the joint review "must include, but is not limited to, all forms of discrimination and bullying".

"We treat these allegations very seriously," Howden added. "Over the last 20 years, British Cycling has established itself as one of the UK's leading sports and we are proud of what we have achieved as a governing body.

"Whatever the outcome of this review, I'm sure that there will be valuable lessons to learn."

UK Sport chief Liz Nicholl added: "The allegations made by current and former athletes about British Cycling's World Class Programme over the past week have been deeply troubling to UK Sport, and any long-term cultural issues within the programme must therefore be fully investigated."

Nicholl also praised British Cycling for "quickly recognising the severity of these allegations and establishing this joint review".