British Canoeing and its funding agency UK Sport have jointly commissioned an independent investigation into claims the national governing body failed to respond to serious complaints made by athletes against a senior coach.
The investigation, which started on Tuesday, is being conducted by the former Metropolitan police service officer Lance Spring, and he will report to a panel comprised of three lawyers – Lawrence Selby, Sara Fenoughty and Jane Aldred – with Selby acting as chairman.
These four have no connection to British Canoeing or UK Sport and have been selected by the arbitration service Sport Resolutions, which is supporting the investigation. The panel aims to complete its report by the end of October.
In a joint statement, British Canoeing and UK Sport said: “In April several allegations were brought to the attention of British Canoeing, including a number of concerns about past failings of the organisation to deal appropriately with matters that had been raised previously.
“British Canoeing acknowledges the seriousness of these allegations and has agreed with UK Sport to jointly commission an independent investigation into these allegations.”
This news follows last week’s announcement from the governing body that a coach in the high-performance team had resigned after an internal investigation into claims of grooming and sexual assault, first revealed in the Guardian, was adjourned a month ago.
The coach was not named for legal reasons but it is understood a police investigation into the allegations continues.
Backed by generous National Lottery funding, the British canoeing team has become one of the best in the world, winning two gold medals and two silvers at the Olympics in Rio and three golds and two bronzes at the Paralympics.
However, British Canoeing is not the only national governing body to have faced allegations against coaches, as Archery GB this month suspended a coach after a complaint involving a young para-archer and British Swimming is investigating a coach after allegations of bullying from para-swimmers.
The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association has also recently conducted an internal investigation into claims of bullying, racism and sexism, although it stressed there had been no formal complaints, and British Cycling was the subject of a high-profile independent investigation into allegations of bullying and discrimination.