British Rowing looks into claims of bullying by senior coach

Rowing coach Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson coached Australia's women at the 1996 Olympics before joining Great Britain

British Rowing is investigating claims of bullying by a senior coach.

Former Great Britain rower Emily Taylor made the allegations about Australian Paul Thompson, chief coach of the GB women's rowing team.

British Rowing said it was aware of the comments made by Taylor, 29, to online magazine The Mixed Zone.

"British Rowing strives to be an open and transparent organisation. We are looking into the concerns and issues raised," it added.

Taylor described Thompson, 52, as a "massive bully" in the interview and said the team operated with a "culture of fear".

She said: "No-one stood up to him. He surrounded himself with yes-men and everyone was scared of him."

Emily Taylor and GB under-23 rowing team
Emily Taylor, second from right, was a medallist at the World Under-23 Championship

Taylor was selected in the original squad for the London 2012 Olympics but was left out of GB's women's eight and retired after the Games.

The team, coached by Thompson, won three gold medals.

Thompson, who joined British Rowing in 2001, was awarded an MBE following the team's success at the London Games and will again lead the medal hunt at Rio 2016.

Taylor added: "He is fantastic technically, but in terms of people-management, his skills are non-existent."

Thompson has also faced criticism by Olympic medallist Rick Egington, the boyfriend of rower Vicky Thornley. Thornley is the double sculls partner of Katherine Grainger, who is seeking a place at her fifth Olympic Games, but the pair missed out on initial selection for the team.

Egington said the pair had been "mismanaged" by Thompson, and accused the coach of causing "unnecessary stress to his top athlete".

It also follows bullying claims similarly made within British Cycling.

British Cycling is currently conducting a review - chaired by British Rowing chief Annamarie Phelps - to uncover whether there are "fundamental behavioural issues" in its World Class Programme.

The review, co-commissioned by UK Sport, comes after British Cycling's technical director Shane Sutton quit amid sexism and discrimination claims.

Rider Jess Varnish previously claimed Sutton had made sexist comments, which the Australian denied.

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