British Cycling head Andy Harrison apologises for email to riders
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 24/05/16 2:20pm
The interim head of British Cycling, Andy Harrison, has apologised after appearing to suggest to riders that their chances of being selected for the Olympic Games could be jeopardised if they criticised the organisation in the media.
British Cycling was plunged into crisis last month when allegations of sexism, discrimination and bullying prompted the resignation of technical director Shane Sutton and the launching of an independent review of the coaching programme.
Two days after being named as Sutton's short-term successor, Harrison sent an email to riders saying they were "free to say yes or no to interviews, but how you respond will be a big factor in our ability to support you as the current season unfolds".
One rider replied to Harrison questioning what he had meant, prompting him to send a second email, an hour and a quarter after his first, saying: "I want to apologise if the first line of the email is misleading. The intention of the sentence was to highlight that I want my (and the staff's) time to be focused upon supporting you. I apologise if this genuine sentiment has been lost in a poorly constructed sentence."
Harrison's initial email, sent on April 29, also offered guidance on how riders should respond if questioned by the media.
It read: "It is highly likely that you will be asked for a comment over the weekend. As stated, your response will be a big factor going forward.
"If asked about this week's events, we ask that you reflect the following messaging."
Two bullet points followed, with Harrison suggesting the responses that should be given.
" * The specific allegations that have been circulating in the media over the past week are extremely serious and I'm pleased to see that British Cycling and UK Sport are launching a full inquiry.
" * I'm confident that they will get to the bottom of these allegations and that British Cycling will emerge stronger as a result."
Sky Sports has seen both of Harrison's emails.
British Cycling released a statement after the emails emerged on Monday night.
It read: "Shortly after the initial email, a rider asked Andy about the opening paragraph. Andy immediately apologised and issued a quick clarification as riders have been told throughout recent weeks that they are free to speak of their own experiences to the media.
"Andy's note was intended to ask the riders to consider the independent review as the best forum for raising concerns about behaviours in the team."
Sutton denies the claims against him.