08 March 2018 by Henry Ker
UK Sport's work on the Code for Sports Governance has been warmly received, and will both help athletes win and tackle abuse
On Saturday 4 August 2012, I watched the Great Britain Olympic team win two gold and a silver medal in the rowing at Eton Dorney.
Although it would have made for a better anecdote had I been there the previous day and seen our cover interview Dame Katherine Grainger, with teammate Anna Watkins, win gold in the Women’s double sculls, I still remember the emotion and impact of our sporting success to this day – despite the pouring rain.
Since then, Dame Katherine has taken up the role of chair at UK Sport (responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport). Ensuring good governance in the sports in receipt of funding is a key aspect of UK Sport’s remit and, as part of that, it launched the Code for Sports Governance last year.
As with any change on this scale, bringing a multitude of different bodies around to a new way of doing things is a challenge, but she is enthusiastic about the response: ‘Even the ones that were finding it difficult … were all positive about the reason why it was coming into play. They could see that it would make sport better.’
Alongside positive developments, it was important to discuss the sector’s recent issues – with accusations of bullying and discrimination in some sports, while people such as former Olympian Gail Emms have spoken about the struggles of life after leaving sport, and Baroness Grey-Thompson released her Duty of Care Report.
‘As an athlete, you would never wish these problems to exist in the first place … [but] there is a complete understanding that a full and appropriate response is needed,’ Dame Katherine said.
‘We need to ask, what was so hard, where were the struggles, how can we learn from everyone and … use that experience to improve things.’
That is a relevant message to every organisation. 2018 has been sadly dogged by scandal and business failure so far: Carillion, Oxfam, and the Presidents Club dinner, while as we went to press Toys R Us and Maplin had just gone into administration.
The impact of these cases is widespread, but if we do not learn from them and try and improve things, it only compounds the tragedy. You can read the full interview with Dame Katherine here.