Team Sky’s boss and former British Cycling chief Sir Dave Brailsford has defended his time at the British headquarters saying they were ‘not sexist’ but ‘medallist.’
It’s been a rough period for British Cycling and also Brailsford’s current team, Team Sky as scandals across the disciplines have caused controversy galore, but writing in The Times, Brailsford has defended his time at BC.
It hasn’t been pretty reading for the GB cycling squad; prior to the Olympic Games in Rio last summer Jess Varnish was let-go amid claims she didn’t have a chance of medalling in Rio. That episode set the wheels in motion for a barrage of unsavoury headlines in which Varnish said that Shane Sutton was discriminatory and sexist towards her.
One of Varnish’s claims was to be found true, but eight other counts weren’t and with a report due soon into the culture of British Cycling it’s been a really tricky period for the organisation.
CEO Ian Drake was due to step down in April, but he left earlier than expected, and with the latest claims coming from Olympic and World Champion Nicole Cooke, the culture at British Cycling is well and truly in the spotlight.
Brailsford says GB cycling culture was ‘medallist’
After the revelations Cooke made to the select committee for tackling doping in Sport, Brailsford has said: “We were not sexist, but we were definitely ‘medallist’.”
“That is why we pushed for equal number of male and female events so our elite female athletes could have the same maximum chance of success as their male counterparts,” continued Brailsford who left in 2014 to spend more time with Sky on the road.
In her written evidence a couple of weeks ago Cooke spoke about how she was disappointed at how a women’s Team Sky wasn’t setup, and that she felt the sport was ‘run by men, for men.’
But Brailsford disagrees, saying: “It is why we created the women’s professional road team — Team Halfords — in 2008 which led to a gold medal in Beijing and was described as critical to that success. It is why British Cycling has won as many female medals as male ones since 2008.”
Brailsford still a fan of UK Sport’s ‘no compromise’ ethos
There’s no doubt that elite sport is challenging and in order to achieve the best possible results the 52-year-old still holds the ‘no compromise’ approach dear.
“I was, and still am, an advocate of UK Sport’s ‘no compromise’ ethos. It is a ruthless approach and one that is completely meritocratic. Focus on the podium. Leave no stone unturned,” said Brailsford.
GB has been extremely successful at Olympic Games, and last year in Rio was another indication that GB is still the nation to beat. But Brailsford denies claims that it ‘was a winning at all costs’ attitude during his time at the helm.
“Elite sport is by definition not sport for all. It is edgy and it is difficult. There are fine lines between success and failure. Only the very few can make it,” concluded Brailsford.