British Rowing announces internal review into bullying claims over Paul Thompson

Emily Taylor
Emily Taylor, second from right, was a medallist at the World Under-23 Championship

British Rowing is to conduct an internal review after bullying claims were made against a senior coach.

Former Great Britain rower Emily Taylor described Paul Thompson, 52, as a "massive bully" in an interview with online magazine The Mixed Zone.external-link

The governing body says it has made contact with Taylor, 29, to hear her allegations first hand.

However, Australian Thompson defended himself in the Daily Telegraph,external-link saying he does not feel he is a bully.

British Rowing's chief executive Andy Parkinson said in a statementexternal-link the governing body was committed to providing a "positive experience" for everyone in the sport.

He added: "We have a duty of care to everyone involved in the high performance programme and we treat allegations of this nature very seriously.

"As a responsible national governing body we will make every effort to assess the facts so that we are able to address the current situation and continually improve our programmes."

Taylor was selected in the original squad for the London 2012 Olympics but was left out of the women's eight and retired after the Games.

The team, coached by Thompson, won three gold medals.

Thompson, who joined British Rowing in 2001, was awarded an MBE following the team's success at the London Games and will again lead the medal hunt at Rio 2016.

He told the Telegraph: "Someone has to make hard decisions and that is my role to do that. I'm sorry to hear that [Emily] has a perception that she is hard done by.

"There are things there that [she claims] I have said that I haven't said. There are also situations where my recollection of the situation isn't the same."

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson was awarded an MBE following the team's success at the London Games in 2012

Taylor said in her interview: "No-one stood up to him. He surrounded himself with yes-men and everyone was scared of him.

"He is fantastic technically, but in terms of people-management, his skills are non-existent."

Thompson has also faced criticism for his handling of double sculls pair Vicky Thornley and Katherine Grainger, who have been made to wait before being included in the GB team for Rio.

After poor form earlier in the season, 40-year-old Grainger, seeking a fifth Olympic medal to become Britain's most decorated female Olympian, and Thornley attempted to switch into the women's eight boat but failed to beat the current crew in recent testing.

Reverting to their partnership, they could only finish third in their heat at the Rowing World Cup in Poznan on Friday. They face a repechage on Saturday in order to make Sunday's final.

Olympic medallist Rick Egington, boyfriend of rower Thornley, said the pair had been "mismanaged" by Thompson.