TRI247
Search
shop
WIN a year of riding on ROUVY plus indoor cycling kit bundle
ENTER NOW

A watershed moment for British Triathlon?

The sport of triathlon made unwanted headlines this weekend in The Sunday Times - how it reacts now to those allegations is key

Chief Correspondent
Last updated -
SHOP

It’s not often that the sport of triathlon makes headlines in The Sunday Times – and rarely does it do so without relating to the ups and downs of the Brownlee brothers.

That changed yesterday, with a headline of ‘Absence of leadership claim made against ‘toxic’ Triathlon Scotland‘.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE LINK

The article centres, primarily, around the feedback of Triathlon Scotland’s Lead Performance Coach, Mark Turner, who joined the organisation in May 2019. “Shocked and appalled” by what he has experienced, he described his reasons for speaking out as being in the hope of “a catalyst for change”. He goes on to describe Triathlon Scotland CEO, Jane Moncreiff, and Performance Director, Fiona Lothian, as “out of their depth.” His testimony includes approaching the Triathlon Scotland board with written statements featuring allegations of bullying from current and former athletes, coaches and athletes’ parents.

The article then further quotes athletes – under the condition of anonymity – past and present from the Elite squad, of issues relating to “if your face doesn’t fit, they want nothing to do with you”, and “I was bullied by staff and didn’t feel welcome.”

In response, a Triathlon Scotland spokesman was quoted as, “Triathlon Scotland is committed to ensuring it is a positive place to work… Evidence from an independent investigation, supported by a leading sports law firm, does not in any way recognise the claims made. While the investigation is complete, the internal process is yet to conclude, however we are very comfortable rejecting the statements and claims made.”

What next?

You may be forgiven for thinking that elements of the above sound familiar. Recent and current cases and claims involving British Cycling and UK Athletics, to name just two, certainly have similar hallmarks of claim and counter-claim and some of the issues raised cut across all three.

One thing I do know is that Elite sport is not an easy world to be in:

  • Athletes are under pressure to perform / qualify / make the team / gain funding and sponsorship.
  • Coaches are under pressure to talent ID future stars / gain trust / win medals / deliver the best coaching and hit KPI’s / obtain resources for science, training and more to optimise performance
  • Administrators and ‘Governing Body’ are under pressure to hit targets from UK Sport, obtain / retain / increase funding, reduce costs, maintain governance, win medals… while also meeting the diverse requirements of its membership base.

And that’s just a 30-second brain dump – add that all together, and you cannot avoid a high-pressure environment. Throw in selection policies, access to medical services, coaching… well, it’s a tough environment, with a lot of pressure for all involved.

Now, what is essential is how the sport reacts

If there is one thing we (should) have learned over recent years, it’s that being transparent is essential. And that also means that those individuals accused, and the governing body itself, also get a fair chance to put forward their case and, where appropriate, defend themselves.

Governance in Sports National Governing Bodies is certainly not my area of expertise, but avoiding the half-truths and tall tales of L-Carnitine injections, jiffy bags, dodgy doctors and multi-year investigations that continue in Cycling and Athletics can’t happen here. Just last week, Toni Minichello, the coach of Jessica Ennis-Hill highlighted the transparency issue in relation trust.

Does that mean a (fresh) independent review? Perhaps that means publication of investigation that has already taken place? I don’t know the best way forward, but I’m confident that the governing body being upfront and, if necessary, proactively calling in somebody (UK Sport?) to clear its name and/or learn from previous mistakes, would be far better received than months and years of innuendo and accusations with no progress made or solutions reached.

Public perception of elite sport has changed and any perceived  element of ‘brushing it under the carpet’ – even if the evidence refuting all of the allegations is watertight – is unlikely to wash in the current environment.

CLICK HERE FOR TRIATHLON SCOTLAND STATEMENT

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
Discover more
Challenge Family Roth
Five things you need to know about the Challenge Roth bike course
Pelotan - Kristian Blummenfelt
Training and racing in the heat – top tips for keeping your cool when the heat is on
ROUVY routes and workouts – Best ROUVY routes to get ready for Challenge Roth
Sumarpo vanguard vs Zone 3 Vanquish X triathlon wetsuits
ZONE3 Vanquish X wetsuit vs Sumarpo Vanguard wetsuit – how do these triathlon wetsuits match up?
Rouvy indoor cycling app routes
Virtual training for real life racing – How year-round indoor cycling could benefit your race day performance
latest News
Sam Laidlow IRONMAN World Championship 2023 breaks tape for victory
Was Sam Laidlow’s Vitoria-Gasteiz DQ enough to validate his Kona ticket? The IRONMAN verdict is in
Matt Hauser Hamburg WTCS 2024 Photo credit: Tommy Zaferes / World Triathlon
Olympic Games triathlon: Hauser SMASHES 5km WTCS run best – what will be needed in Paris over 10km?
Olympic Games Triathlon Paris Test Event August 2023
Olympic Games triathlon: French sports minister and Hanquinquant swim in the Seine
Lisa Tertsch Cassandre Beaugrand Beth Potter Hamburg WTCS 2024 Photo credit: Tommy Zaferes / World Triathlon
Olympic Games triathlon: No panic from Potter after Hamburg – ‘the big one’s in two-and-a-half weeks’
Kat Matthews runs down the red carpet to second place (Photo by Nigel Roddis, Getty Images for IRONMAN)
British triathlon star celebrates MAJOR win after record breaking day at IRONMAN Vitoria-Gasteiz
triathlon on your terms
Never miss out with our triathlon alerts & digest. Get a dose of adventure & inspiration with Boundless.
Invalid email address
The SBRX Group

Proudly elevating endurance sports through content, products & services

SBRX
RUN247
WIN A 12-MONTH ROUVY SUBSCRIPTION
WIN ONE YEAR OF RIDING ON ROUVY
Share to...