After months of turmoil and almost tabloid press, British Cycling’s new performance director, Stephen Park, has broken his silence.
Park, who has replaced Dave Brailsford during a difficult time for British Cycling, told the British press, “I suppose I see all that as being a great opportunity. A lot of the things being raised in the various reviews and reports, there is already a lot of work being done to address a lot of the concerns; to improve the governance and organizational structure. That journey has already begun. So I wasn’t so worried about that.”
“Also, because I knew from the conversations I had had with riders I had met – at the Olympics or in previous visits, and from coaching staff and support staff – that some of the things that were coming out [the bullying allegations] were not representative of the whole program.”
“They may or may not have been representative of one or two people’s individual experiences within the program – and of course that doesn’t make it alright – but they weren’t representative across the programs.”
“And now we are starting to see athletes coming out and saying ‘Actually, do you know what? I didn’t get involved [when the controversy first erupted] because it didn’t feel it was relevant to me. But actually now I feel I need to speak up because this doesn’t represent the view that I have. Dani King last week for instance who said something along the lines of: ‘Were they tough and were they harsh? Well yes, they were. But no more harsh on me than on the men.’”
Park, who also serves as Great Britain’s Royal Yachting Association’s Olympic manager, said the transition from watching to boating, hasn’t been an easy one.
“I want people to talk about the cycling program as being tough, as being robust, as being challenging,” he said. “The last thing I want is that people would use the word ‘bullying’. But equally, we are not going to change the program to be serving afternoon tea after every session.”
“All the athletes are not going to be happy all the time. That is a given. The important thing is that they understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, that you have sound reasoning, that you have been happy to talk and explain to them about what it is. They might not agree with it but they understand it.”
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