LONDON (Reuters) – A ‘culture of fear’ existed at British Canoeing as a result of a commonly held view that the pursuit of medals was at any cost, an independent investigation found in a report published on Wednesday.
The enquiry was commissioned in 2017, after the previous year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics and allegations about a coach had been made.
Cycling and swimming have faced similarly damning reports in recent years as Britain’s ‘medal machine’ comes under closer scrutiny.
Key findings published on the British Canoe website (www.britishcanoeing.org.uk) determined that on the balance of probability “such a culture did exist” and had been fostered by key individuals as a means of controlling athletes and suppressing dissent.
They did so “apparently safe in their belief that there would be no repercussions for their behavior” because they were judged solely on results rather than the methods used to achieve them.
British Canoeing chair John Coyne said the body accepted the findings in full and apologized unreservedly.
“It is clear from the findings of the Report that there were serious organizational deficiencies in the past, which led to the inadequate and deficient investigation of complaints and the poor treatment of those making them,” he said.
“The report identifies major governance, process and organizational failures in our all too recent past. To all those harmed by these deficiencies I offer a full apology.”
Britain finished second to the United States in the medal table at the 2016 Games, winning 67 medals with 27 golds. Canoeing provided two golds and two silvers.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)