Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Deignan: British Cycling Has to Be Ruthless It's in the Medals Business

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Deignan: British Cycling Has to Be Ruthless It's in the Medals Business

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Majendie Sports Correspondent

THE name has changed but the directness remains the same. "It was ruthless and it is still ruthless," is Lizzie Deignan's assessment of British Cycling, and the 28-year-old is well versed in the intricacies of a system in which she first made a name for herself and which has long been immersed in a bullying row.

The headlines have made for painful reading, only briefly paused with the latest medal rush at last week's World Championships.

For Deignan, Armitstead until marrying the Team Sky rider Philip Deignan in September, her track career was not always a happy experience.

Despite world titles, she fell out of love with the discipline and headed for the road aged 20 but her message about British Cycling goes against the grain. A leaked report of the independent investigation into British Cycling, which has yet to be made public, found a "culture of fear" within the organisation.

"For me, it wasn't a bullying place or a sexist place," she says. "It was ruthless and really hard but it was professional. It's in the business of medals and that's ruthless.

"You have to differentiate between elite and amateur sport. Elite sport is ruthless as you're trying to be the best in the world and, if you aren't, there's someone snapping at your heels.

"I suppose with my experience, I've realised you have to read beyond the headlines, and unfortunately the negative voices are often louder than the positive voices. I think it's brave to stand up and be positive if you believe in something."

The personal experience alluded to began in a Swiss court after a third missed doping test led to a ban just days before the Olympics.

The ban was overturned but it turned Rio, for which she had planned meticulously for gold having been pipped to the line at London 2012, into a nightmare. …

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