British Athletes Have 'Fewer Rights Than An Uber Driver,' Collins Says
Great Britain's elite athletes "have fewer rights than an Uber driver" and "desperately need an independent watchdog to protect them," U.K. Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee Chair Damian Collins said, according to Sean Ingle of the London GUARDIAN. Collins added that the "worrying number of bullying, sexism and racism cases inside the UK Sport system was directly linked to the lack of employment rights for athletes and it is not enough to hope for change to happen organically." His comments came as UK Sport Chair Katherine Grainger admitted her organization has faced "significant challenges" over the past 18 months that "can no longer be brushed under the carpet." Speaking before UK Sport's World Class Performance conference, which began in Manchester on Monday, Grainger said, "I recognize and accept that there have been a number of difficult issues across a range of sports in recent months that have challenged our system, and we have to rise to that challenge. These issues do not take away from the achievements of our athletes and coaches, but neither can we brush them under the carpet or just hope that they go away." Collins said that "more must be done to reform the culture of UK Sport" -- including an independent sports ombudsman, operating outside UK Sport's control, which he believes is "desperately needed" (GUARDIAN, 11/20). The BBC's Dan Roan reported several governing bodies are "embroiled in bullying allegations." UK Sport released new guidance to coaches and staff on "how to treat athletes with more respect." The funding agency said that coaching staff will be given guidance on four so-called "golden threads" of a positive and winning sporting culture -- inspiration, integrity, the pursuit of excellence and respect -- tailored to "12 critical moments in an athlete's journey through their sport" (BBC, 11/20).