The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association has announced the removal of director Colin Rattigan with immediate effect.
The governing body said it had taken what it described as the “unprecedented” step due to Rattigan having “fundamentally breached the BBSA Directors’ Code of Conduct”, adding that he had “thereby undermined the very organisation which he was appointed to serve”.
Rattigan’s dismissal is understood to be unrelated to an ongoing independent investigation, commissioned by UK Sport, relating to allegations of racism, bullying and harassment within the organisation, which was brought by Rattigan earlier this year.
In a statement to the PA news agency, the BBSA said: “Today.. the Board of Directors of the BBSA took the unprecedented step of removing Colin Rattigan as a Director of the BBSA with immediate effect.
“The exact details for this will remain confidential to the Board for the time being but, through his actions, the Board is in no doubt that Colin Rattigan fundamentally breached the BBSA Directors’ Code of Conduct and the BBSA Articles of Association and thereby undermined the very organisation which he was appointed to serve.
“Whilst we will not comment further on the incidents which brought about this decision, they are separate to the matters to be covered by the independent investigation commissioned by UK Sport.
“We welcome that investigation and are happy to cooperate fully. We strongly refute the allegations raised in recent media reports and wish to be clear that we are yet to be presented with any evidence that supports them.”
Rattigan, who competed for Great Britain in two Winter Olympics, was appointed to the BBSA Board in 2019 as part of a shake-up following a disappointing performance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which resulted in bobsleigh being stripped of £5million of funding.
Rattigan was the only black member of the BBSA Board and is understood to have raised issues concerning discriminatory treatment towards a number of black bobsleigh athletes, including double Olympian Lamin Deen.
A senior coach at the BBSA wrote separately to UK Sport last week.
Furthermore, Rattigan alleges that he was subject to an “extended period” of bullying and harassment, and claims recordings of board meetings were made in an attempt to entrap him.
In a statement to the PA news agency following his removal, Rattigan stressed the positive role he believed he had played within the organisation, and expressed his desire for the investigation to continue in a “fair and honest” way.
Rattigan said: “When I was asked to come back to the BBSA and help build bobsleigh, it was a proud moment as I believe that giving back is important once you have achieved elite status in your sport.
“In the short time that I have been in the BBSA bobsleigh position, despite all the challenges, I have provided leadership, the strategic vision and plan and improved the depth of collaboration, engagement and consultation to put a plan in place.
“We were able to successfully complete a season with less than a shoestring budget. We were able to make contributions to help teams achieve results during that season and continue their quest for Olympic medals.
“This is not about me. It is about the future of British bobsleigh and doing the right thing. Let’s hope that the UK Sport investigation continues in a fair and honest way.”
In 2017, the BBSA was subject to a separate investigation by UK Sport, which looked into allegations of a “toxic culture” within the organisation.
UK Sport continues to fund the BBSA’s successful skeleton programme, which yielded three medallists in Pyeongchang – one of whom, Lizzy Yarnold, is a current BBSA board member – to the tune of £7.2m through the current Olympic cycle.
A UK Sport statement read: “UK Sport has been made aware of the developments at the BBSA. Such decisions regarding the BBSA Board are the responsibility of the BBSA.”