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Dave Brailsford on the defensive ahead of review into British Cycling

Sir Dave Brailsford. Photo: Offside/L'Equipe

The former British Cycling performance director spoke of a 'medallist' approach

Sir Dave Brailsford has spoken out ahead of the publication of a review into British Cycling which is due out later this month. Writing in The Times, the former performance director countered claims of sexism by stating that British Cycling was 'not sexist, but definitely “medallist”.' 

British Cycling has been embroiled in controversy for some months. Stories first emerged from 'the medal factory' when Jess Varnish made accusations of sexism against BC coach Shane Sutton. Following an internal enquriy Sutton lost his job as a result of his use of the term 'bitches'. He was cleared of eight other misconduct charges. 

Following this, former World and Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke has been vocal in her criticism of the culture at British Cycling during her career. She also spoke about another story that Brailsford is caught up in, the Bradley Wiggins jiffy bag saga.

Addressing only the subject of British Cycling in his guest column, Sir Dave listed the success Britain's Olympic cyclists have experienced over the past near two decades, and the environment that made that success possible.

'I was, and still am, an advocate of UK Sport’s "no compromise" ethos. It is a ruthless approach and one that is completely meritocratic,' he said. 

‘At British Cycling we fully embraced [winning] and translated it into a Podium Only programme,’ Brailsford argues. ‘We did not invest in ‘4th to 8th’ performers. We did invest a lot in a very few. And by podium I mean the world podium.’ Of course, this doesn’t fully address Nicole Cooke’s complaints about imbalance of funding between men and women, as she and her fellow top female performers were consistent World Class performers on par with the men’s squad. 

Cooke had also complained that there was no suitable complaints procedure when she was on the British Cycling programme, something Brailsford indirectly counters. He talks about an enviroment where all riders and staff are 'continuously pushing their personal boundaries to perform even better is one that has the best chance of winning.'

But he goes on to add that this 'needs to be anchored in the right behaviours. At British Cycling this meant managing relations between staff and riders in the right manner.' 

Much could be interpreted or extrapolated from what Brailsford says in his article, but the whole scenario should become much clearer once the findings of the investigation are made public. 

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