DISCIPLINARY PROCESS RE-VISITED – posted 20 May 2013
Much has been written on Spokesman and Facebook in recent days about British Cycling’s disciplinary process.
We thought it worth reminding readers of the correct process by re-publishing part of an interview which appeared on Spokesman last Autumn. Answering the questions as part of our Question Time feature was British Cycling’s Disciplinary Officer Dr George Gilbert. Here’s what Dr Gilbert had to say:
Can you give Spokesman a brief summary?
When the Disciplinary Officer receives a report of misconduct, they ask the British Cycling staff to investigate further to build up an initial picture of what happened from multiple sources. That is then passed back to the Disciplinary Officer to decide if the report is credible or not. It's important to stress that no judgement is made over guilt at this point, merely whether or not the allegation is credible; if it isn't, the case is either dropped, or more usually resolved through informal
discussion with the parties as there's often some underlying grievance where getting people together and talking can help.
If there is a credible allegation of misconduct, then that is written up as a formal Disciplinary Complaint and, after discussion with British Cycling's legal and compliance teams, a Specified Sanction is suggested and sent to the accused individual or club. The Specified Sanction is merely an opportunity for the individual / club to admit liability early and take a fixed penalty rather than having to go through a formal hearing.
A bit like a parking ticket or speeding fine?
Yes, exactly. Again, it's important to stress that receiving notice of a Specified Sanction doesn't mean the individual or club is definitely guilty, it's just an early opportunity for them to admit guilt if they are. If they feel they are not guilty, or the Specified Sanction is not appropriate due to mitigating circumstances etc, then they should reject it and the case will proceed to a full formal investigation and a hearing.
What happens at the hearing?
To avoid one person being both the prosecutor and the judge / jury, hearings are handled by a completely different person - the Head of the Disciplinary Panel. They select a panel of three independent people and all the evidence is put before them; that panel then makes a decision over guilt and, if found guilty, imposes a Sanction.
If the accused is unhappy with that, then they also have the right to appeal that decision, and the Head of the Disciplinary Panel will convene another panel of three different independent people and they will look at the case again. In practice, if someone doesn't accept the allegations made against them, a minimum of nine, and often 15 to 20, different people will have reviewed the case before a sanction is imposed.