Investigation is a hit job – Rattigan

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April 23, 2021
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    British Bobsleigh at the 2018 Winter OlympicsThe British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association says it has co-operated fully with the independent investigation

    A former British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BBSA) director says a UK Sport investigation into his allegations of bullying and racism is a "hit job".

    The ongoing review was launched last year after Colin Rattigan claimedexternal-link he was subjected to an "extended period" of harassment and bullying.

    But Rattigan, who competed for Great Britain at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, was then dismissedexternal-link after the governing body said he had "fundamentally breached" its code of conduct in what it described as an unrelated development.

    Rattigan denies the claim, and has now spoken out about the investigation sparked by his allegations, telling BBC Sport he has "absolutely no confidence" in the process.

    "The investigation appears to be driven [by] a desire to continue to defame myself, paint a negative narrative, and silence complaints on behalf of a number of athletes and coaches," he said.

    "It appears to be trying to provide cover and justify BBSA behaviour, as well as turning the investigation against my complaint."

    He added that he felt it was a "waste of taxpayers' money, a hit job and deceptive investigative process".

    In a statement, Sally Munday, the chief executive of UK Sport, said: "In response to serious allegations, we commissioned an independent investigation.

    "We are unable to make a detailed comment at this stage as the investigation is in its concluding phase and we are awaiting the final report."

    The BBSA also said it could not yet comment fully, but insisted it had "co-operated fully with the independent investigation throughout this process".

    "We have accepted months of delay to the publication of the report to allow Colin Rattigan additional time to contribute, and we have done all that has been asked of us in relation to this matter," the BBSA added.

    "We repeat that we are yet to see any evidence that supports the claims that Colin Rattigan is making here, despite repeatedly asking for this information to be presented."

    This is the latest controversy to engulf one of the country's best-funded winter sports.

    In 2017, a host of athletes complained of a "toxic atmosphere" in the sport, with a previous independent review launched into allegations of bullying, sexism and racism.

    Rattigan joined the BBSA board in 2019 as part of subsequent reforms and was its only black board member, but he says change has been superficial.

    "Many of the practices – biased behaviour, favouritism, unprofessional behaviour, no duty of care process – have continued as referenced in my complaints," he said.

    "There are no qualified directors with the necessary experience to provide a coherent strategy to build the association and the sport to world-class level and at the same time develop a grassroots of future Olympic champions.

    "Many of the past issues are lingering […].The behaviours were not eradicated or addressed.

    "[It's] the blind leading the blind in an unprofessional, petty, inexperienced and toxic atmosphere."

    Last year, a group of athletes and coaches reportedly endorsed a letter to the BBSA's chair, expressing concern over Rattigan's dismissal.

    Rattigan says he is pursuing legal action over his removal as a director.

    As the sport enters a pivotal phase in the run-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Rattigan issued his own assessment of the future prospects for British bobsleigh.

    "Allow the individuals with the knowledge and passion for the sport [to] run and develop the sport, otherwise it will die," he warned.

    "British bobsleigh formed the foundation for the international development of the sport. It would be a pity to see that we would not able to achieve Olympic and world status because of our inability to have the right people at the helm of the national sporting body."

    He also called for a new board under an improved governance structure, and "proper athlete-representation… to ensure the healthy and non-toxic development of the sport".

    In response, the BBSA said its board "features a group of people with different skill sets and areas of expertise, all of whom are passionate about the success, sustainability and growth of our sports".

    The organisation added: "Following the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, UK Sport issued new funding criteria to the BBSA, including that a new board was to be recruited by open competition.

    "[It] has for the first time ensured compliance with the UK Sport Code of Governance – the highest standard of governance for an NGB [national governing body]."

    Source

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