British Cycling appoints FA's Julie Harrington as new chief executive

Julie Harrington with Prince William and former FA chairman Greg Dyke
Julie Harrington, with Prince William and former FA chairman Greg Dyke, leaves her role as group operations director at the Football Association

Senior football executive Julie Harrington has been appointed as the new chief executive of British Cycling.

Harrington leaves her role as group operations director at the Football Association to take over from Ian Drake, who stepped down last month.

British Cycling has been subject to a UK Sport independent investigation into culture and practices at the organisation and there is also an ongoing UK Anti-Doping investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in cycling.

Drake, who had led British Cycling for eight years, said when he stepped down that it was "the natural moment" for a new figure to lead the organisation "forward into Tokyo 2020".

Harrington is currently responsible for running both Wembley Stadium and St George's Park for the FA. She has almost 15 years' experience in senior leadership roles in sport

"I am thrilled to be asked to lead British Cycling as it embarks on a new chapter in its history," she said. "This is the right time to be joining one of this country's leading governing bodies.

"British Cycling already has a fantastic track record of using elite success to inspire millions of people to get active by getting on their bikes and is now setting its sights on new ambitions and a new way of working."

She will start working for British Cycling in May.

Apology for failings

Last week the head of British Cycling apologised for "failings" following accusations of that elite cyclists were victims of bullying and sexism.

Chairman Jonathan Browning said the governing body would make changes to be more caring to riders.

"Where there are failings we apologise," Browning told BBC sports editor Dan Roan.

An investigation into the culture at British Cycling was launched last year after former riders complained about their treatment. A report on its findings is imminent.

Last week MP Damian Collins said British Cycling's credibility was "in tatters" following a separate inquiry into doping.

MPs heard "some detailed and worrying" evidence from former British Cycling coach Simon Cope and Ukad chief Nicole Sapstead, covering issues from poor record-keeping of riders' medical details to the mysterious contents of a jiffy bag delivered from British Cycling to Team Sky at a race in France.


BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Julie Harrington must enjoy a challenge, because she will start her new job with beleaguered British Cycling embroiled in the most difficult period in its history. Along with new chairman Jonathan Browning, her task will be to help the country's most successful and best-funded governing body to recover after an unprecedented year of crises and scandal.

After recent allegations of sexism at British Cycling, the appointment of a well-respected female chief executive will certainly encourage the government at a time when sports organisations are being told they need more diversity in their leadership.

But there is lots at stake, with UK Sport warning that millions of pounds of public funding could be lost if governance and duty of care reforms are not forthcoming, and new sponsor HSBC anxious that there is an end to the recent spate of negative headlines surrounding bullying and doping allegations.

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