British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association chief Joanna Poulton resigns over ‘mad’ plans


Taylor Lawrence and Brad Hall in World Cup action at Park City
British bobsleigh and skeleton athletes have gained six medals at this season’s two World Cup occasions

The chair of the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association resigned over “completely mad” plans by UK Sport to alter how winter sports activities are run, the BBC has discovered.

Proposals being thought of by the funding company would contain eradicating elite programmes from governing our bodies and handing them over to a “single, purpose-built organisation”.

In an idea paper seen by the BBC, it’s argued this new organisation would offer a “better return on funding and discount in threat for UK Sport”.

UK Sport mentioned it has a “duty to repeatedly search new methods to greatest assist Britain’s athletes”, including it has and can “proceed to seek the advice of with the related sports activities”.

But Joanna Poulton not too long ago resigned over what she says are “laughable” plans that will jeopardise the longer term viability of governing our bodies.

She informed BBC Sport: “I’m actually upset to resign however I felt I needed to as a matter of precept, so that I might communicate overtly about UK Sport and what they’re proposing.

“The thought that you could convey all of the elite sports activities beneath one roof frankly appears to me to be laughable. It is naive to suppose that you could put all of the high-performing athletes collectively and suppose that you’re going to enhance efficiency or have efficiencies and that’s nonetheless what we do not perceive.”

It is known that inside the current funding award for the bobsleigh and skeleton programmes for the Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics in 2024, BBSA (British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association) had been solely assured to be the supply companion till October 2023.

Ms Poulton mentioned this has left the BBSA within the “terrible” place of telling employees they can not assure their employment past that date.

She mentioned her elementary concern with the proposal was that she might “not see how this proposal goes to profit the athletes”.

“There has been no justification, nothing in writing to us explaining why they suppose this new organisation goes to do a greater job for the athletes, and for the cash that’s invested, than we are able to do for UK Sport by way of our experience and understanding of how our two sports activities work,” she mentioned.

Team GB didn’t have any medal success on the final Winter Olympics in bobsleigh or skeleton

The idea paper for the organisation – provisionally referred to as ‘Sport Org’ – says it might be a “custom-built atmosphere, utilising people with a confirmed observe document of delivering medals at Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

It mentioned the present mannequin for the supply of WCPs (world class programmes) leads to “duplication of effort and roles” and streamlining these to 1 organisation would convey “stability, effectivity and efficiency”.

The paper provides that this idea is “initially modelled with the winter WCPs”, and the BBC understands the 2 governing our bodies with whom UK Sport are particularly partaking at this stage are BBSA and GB Snowsport.

The Sport Org session started in September 2021.

However, Ms Poulton believes that the outcomes on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics – with the one GB medals coming from curling – have impacted on UK Sport’s need to pursue this plan.

“I do suppose that is what they’ve completed however I feel it is extremely short-sighted,” she mentioned.

“We informed them the place we spend most of our time. We spend quite a lot of our time on governance. We do not spend sufficient time on efficiency.

“It’s naive to suppose that at each Olympic Games you will convey again medals, you simply aren’t. Every sport goes by way of cycles. You see that with swimming, biking, rowing. What it’s important to have a look at is how lengthy does it take to coach an athlete for our two sports activities? It takes about eight years.

“That is 2 Olympic Games. One Olympic Games when the outcomes weren’t nice – that isn’t a adequate cause to place in place a complete new system, and with out session with us.”

She mentioned that she has issues about what would occur to the expertise pathway inside sports activities and the power of NGBs (nationwide governing our bodies) to draw sponsors with out getting access to elite athletes.

In current weeks, British bobsleigh athletes have gained three silver medals on the World Cup circuit, whereas skeleton athletes Marcus Wyatt, Matt Weston, Laura Deas and Brogan Crowley have all gained World Cup medals.

In response to Ms Poulton’s feedback, Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport, mentioned: “UK Sport stays dedicated to changing into an ever better power in winter Olympic and Paralympic sport, as a part of our mission to create the best decade of extraordinary sporting moments.

“As the management organisation for high-performance sport within the UK, we’ve a duty to repeatedly search new methods to greatest assist Britain’s athletes, to attain their desires and succeed on the world stage, whereas additionally maximising the affect of public funds.

“We are exploring whether or not funding to assist British athletes in some winter sports activities might be optimised by aligning their efficiency operations, to allow athletes to proceed to win and win properly, while making a thriving high-performance sport group. We have and can proceed to seek the advice of with the related sports activities within the coming weeks and months.”

A GB Snowsport spokesperson mentioned: “We affirm that we’re conscious of discussions round a Sport Org and the necessity for better readability because the proposals grow to be extra clear. We await with curiosity additional data from UK Sport to help in a full evaluation of the affect such a plan might have for Britain’s winter athletes, programmes and coaches.”

The BBSA has not commented however is known to be working with UK Sport to be taught extra concerning the proposals.

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