In response to a number of historic concerns raised in April 2017, an Independent Investigation was jointly commissioned by British Canoeing and UK Sport, ‘to examine British Canoeing’s governance, corporate responsibility and behaviour with regard to these allegations.’
The Report, commissioned in 2017, has now been formally received.
From the outset, British Canoeing committed to publishing the Key Findings and Recommendations of this Report. These are presented here .
It is on the basis of strong legal advice that neither British Canoeing nor UK Sport can go further and publish the full report.
The Response from British Canoeing
In response to the Report the Chair of British Canoeing Professor John Coyne CBE said;
“British Canoeing accepts in full the findings of the Panel and wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologises to all those affected by the past failings of the organisation highlighted in the Report.
“It is clear from the findings of the Report that there were serious organisational deficiencies in the past, which led to the inadequate and deficient investigation of complaints and the poor treatment of those making them.
“We deeply regret that the lack of appropriate processes and the consequent poor handling of complaints at the time created an environment where there was harmful and unacceptable behaviour by some individuals, that was not suitably addressed and they were not held accountable for their actions.
“The Report identifies major governance, process and organisational failures in our all too recent past. To all those harmed by these deficiencies I offer a full apology.
“British Canoeing is committed to ensuring that we learn from these issues by addressing the recommendations made in the Report. The Report recognises that British Canoeing has taken significant steps since 2016 to address these recommendations. However, we recognise this is a continuous process and there is still more work to be done.
“Our community has been very supportive and understanding despite the incidents of the past and we owe it to them to work diligently to build further trust and cooperation. British Canoeing commits to further reviewing and strengthening the provisions already in place to ensure that we are delivering the highest level of governance and creating a culture where everyone feels able to raise concerns freely, without fear of reprisal and safe in the knowledge that they will be heard.”
British Canoeing has taken many significant actions since 2016 to improve its governance structure, policies, procedures, safeguarding case management and athlete welfare and support. These actions include:
In addition to making these structural and policy changes since 2016, British Canoeing also recognise the importance of effective stakeholder engagement and has committed to a number of opportunities to hear the voices of athletes and those others involved within the World Class Programmes. These include:
British Canoeing is committed to the following actions, which includes reviewing areas of work already undertaken or underway:
UK SPORT STATEMENT
UK Sport CEO Sally Mundy said:
“UK Sport welcomes the publication of the report on the jointly commissioned independent investigation into ‘British Canoeing’s governance, corporate responsibility and behaviour with regard to allegations raised in April 2017 and other associated allegations’, and the full apology British Canoeing has issued to all those affected.
“We recognise that British Canoeing has made significant progress in improving their governance and athlete engagement since this review was commissioned in 2017. We will now support them in their commitment to make the improvements which have been identified within the action plan they have published in response to this Report.
“As well as the advances made at British Canoeing, progress has been made right across the high performance system to improve culture and athlete welfare. This has included the introduction of Culture Health Checks and the Code for Sports Governance with every funded sport, the establishment of an integrity function within UK Sport, the development and roll-out of a system-wide mental health strategy, improved whistleblowing opportunities for athletes and a significant increase in funding for the British Athletes Commission; the independent organisation established to ensure athletes’ interests are heard and represented.
“The health and welfare of athletes is of paramount importance to UK Sport, and we firmly believe it should never be compromised under any circumstances. We will continue to work alongside all of our funded sports to ensure this athlete-first approach is fully understood and puts athletes at the heart of everything we do.”