UK Sport denies demanding change at the top of British Cycling

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UK Sport has refuted suggestions it has called for a change of leadership at British Cycling.

UK Sport on Sunday said it endorsed the appointment of British Cycling chairman Jonathan Browning, as well as those of chief executive Julie Harrington and performance director Stephen Park.

On Friday, Jess Varnish called for the entire British Cycling board to be replaced after a leaked draft review found an internal investigation into her dismissal had seen findings reversed.

And on Sunday it was reported in the Observer that senior figures within UK Sport felt Browning's position was untenable. Browning, who replaced Bob Howden as chairman last month, was a non-executive director on British Cycling's board from April 2014.

A 39-point action plan was established after receipt of the draft version of the Cycling Independent Review Panel's report and is aimed at making the "necessary changes to both culture and governance".

UK Sport said in a statement on Sunday night: "Both UK Sport and Sport England supported the move that the British Cycling board took to elect Jonathan Browning, one of their independent board members, to chair the organisation, pending the agreement and implementation of that action plan."

There was also speculation British Cycling's £26million public funding could be cut, and UK Sport on Sunday night said a governance action plan must be agreed "before any new funding flows from April 2017". Funding also comes from Sport England.

That is the case with every national governing body and British Cycling is confident of complying.

UK Sport, the funding arm of British Olympic and Paralympic sport, believes the embattled national governing body is making steps in the right direction after a chastening 11 months.

UK Sport said both former Football Association official Harrington and ex-sailing chief Park "have an important role to play in delivering the necessary changes".

Already months late, the independent review report's publication is being held up by a process known as Maxwellisation, a legal procedure which gives individuals criticised in an inquiry the right of reply.

British Cycling and UK Sport jointly commissioned the independent review into the culture of British Cycling's world class performance programme after allegations of discrimination and bullying, initially made by Varnish.

UK Sport added: "The boards of both organisations received a draft version in December and all parties have accepted the emerging recommendations of the panel in full.

"The board of British Cycling took early action to prepare a 39-point action plan based on the emerging findings and the recommendations of the review to systematically address the cultural and behavioural shortcomings in British Cycling and made a public commitment to focusing much more on their people, alongside the good work they do on participation and performance.

"UK Sport is satisfied that this plan addresses the findings and recommendations of the draft report."

UK Sport added that British Cycling is required to align with the new Sport Governance Code - relating to transparency, ethical standards and leadership.

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