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What will a code of conduct bring to British cycling?

Tom Fox | April 11, 2017

The Man From FCPA is an avid cyclist, huge fan of the Tour de France and the success of the British cycling team in both the Tour and recent Olympic games. The results have been nothing less than stunning with four of the past five Tour de France winners coming from the British cycling team and in the three most recent Olympics, Team GB won 38 medals, 22 of which were gold medals. Yet all was not well within the team.

First were the disclosures that Sir Bradley Wiggins had been given three “therapeutic use exemptions” which allowed him to receive steroid injections, allegedly for asthma. Just coincidently the steroid injections came before “big races, including his 2012 Tour victory.” Next there was a “mystery package” of drugs delivered to a British coach during the 2011 Tour and was never explained. Finally there were allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

Now, according to reports, the cycling team will create a code of conduct around its operations and the way it treats not only riders, but staff as well. The effort is an attempt to forestall some of the more the withering criticism it received, even from the Financial Times in an editorial. More importantly, as the team is funded by the U.K. government, “British Cycling was warned it needed to do more to ease “concerns” over the way it is run before it can receive £17m. Grassroots sport funding agency Sport England said it wanted cycling's governing body to “meet the highest standards of governance” first.

Certainly, having a code of conduct is a good first step. However, in the world of elite athletes, the standards are very different from we mere mortals here on Planet Earth. That is part of the problems with policing such entities, as they seem to think the regular rules of behavior do not apply to them. Yet when it comes down to receiving funding, then sports groups can see the light. The report noted that “British Cycling will hold an extraordinary general meeting in July in a bid to vote through reforms”; conveniently after this year’s Tour de France.