UK Sport will not shy away from intervening in sports where change will improve performance in the build up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, John Steele, UK Sport’s Chief Executive said last night.
Speaking in Beijing, where he is a guest of the Chinese General Administration for Sport as part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations, John Steele said:
“UK Sport’s job is to ensure that Britain’s sports and athletes have the best possible opportunity to succeed and win on the world stage. With just over a year to go until the Games here, and of course the ultimate of a home games four years later, we cannot afford to sit back for a moment. If we see aspects of a sport’s activity that needs improving, or we are not happy with the way it is being governed, then we are duty-bound to intervene.
“We are investing huge sums of public money into Olympic and Paralympic sport, and we must protect that investment. But our approach is not solely based around accountability – it is fundamental to our drive to improve performance. That is our end game: sports that are well run, using their investment wisely and well across the performance pathway will perform better. When we see that happening we will step back, and adopt a light touch approach. But the nation deserves a return on its investment and we will help sports deliver it.”
Steele highlighted the move that UK Sport has taken in Basketball as an example of this approach. “We have had to intervene significantly, to the extent of taking control temporarily of the performance programme in the sport. It is important to stress that we have support of the sport in the UK for our actions, and that of the International Federation. And whilst a last resort, it is merely an interim arrangement to support athletes and ensure performance progresses while issues of governance are resolved.
“Politicians from all main parties support our approach, as crucially do many people within Olympic and Paralympic sport who recognise the step change that is needed and have called for us to take a more proactive stance. We offer no apologies for this approach– it is what is needed”
Steele highlighted the recent launch of ‘Mission 2012’, a major new system of monitoring and evaluating each Olympic and Paralympic Sport’s performance, as proof of UK Sport’s determination to maximise success. “Mission 2012 is at the heart of our philosophy and approach and represents the next stage of our responsibilities. It will help us judge the overall state of the mission and give a true picture of whether we are on track, not just to meet our aspiration goals for medal success but also the longer term transformation of the UK Performance System. It will not be comfortable for everyone, but there are no hiding places now in British sport as we seek to raise our collective game higher than ever before.”