Ed Warner, the UK Athletics chairman, has said that British sport should stop chasing more “marginal medals” in sports such as track cycling.
With the help of National Lottery cash allocated by UK Sport, Great Britain has climbed the Olympic and Paralympic medal tables over the past two decades with sports such as rowing, sailing and track cycling leading the way.
However, with a number of allegations of bullying and discrimination levelled at British Cycling, there are growing concerns that the medals are bringing diminishing returns in inspiring people to take part in sports.
Speaking at a conference in London last week Warner said, “It feels to me there is a natural cycle in these things, like when Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United. Things comes to an end.
It doesn’t mean Britain will never win medals at the Olympics or Paralympics again but we might have got to the point where the public is sated in its appetite for medals. Does it need many more or does it need something different from elite sport? It needs medals and something – and it is the ‘something’ that is missing at the moment.”
Warner said that UK Sport should review its strategy with chairman Rod Carr leaving next month. There is enormous pressure on the agency’s budget and he thinks that at present there is “too much of a culture of medal winners and non-medal winners” and he hopes that this will change as it is unhealthy.
He also criticised UK Sport for not making sure that British Cycling is using its funding “in the right way and to the best ends of lottery players and the public”. He added that he is “anxious” to ensure that not every governing body was “tarred with the same brush as cycling”.