The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BBSA) descended further into civil war as a sacked director detailed his explosive claims that the board fabricated hiring records and unlawfully shared athlete medical histories.
Former development director Colin Rattigan, who is planning to sue over allegations he breached the governing body's code of conduct, released a statement outlining his dossier of whistleblowing allegations raised prior to his departure.
Among them, he alleged, were "the unethical acts of the chair (Joanna Poulton) and two directors" in failing to hire Tom De La Hunty as performance director but instead recruiting board members Ian Richardson and Heather Ratnage-Black.
De La Hunty had already been effectively working in the role, which left the BBSA "open to reputational and financial damage as well as a legal challenge from Tom de la Hunty, as well as the subsequent attempt to fabricate the records by changing board documentation concerning the hiring process", Rattigan added. There is no suggestion De La Hunty has made any legal claim.
Listing "just some of the issues I have faced over the past 11 months", Rattigan also details "unlawful sharing" of an athlete’s medical information to influence athlete selection was done "without the knowledge or consent of the athlete whose medical information was shared with a third party".
He also makes an explosive claim of "bias and discriminatory actions by the chair and conflicted directors who sought to unfairly bias the selection process through their support of a senior bobsleigh driver, and black bobsleigh coaches who were subjected to discriminating treatment".
The claims are "strongly" refuted by the BBSA, which represents De La Hunty and Poulton, and says it welcomes an independent investigation commissioned by UK Sport. "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," the body said earlier this month. However, Rattigan's claims of alleged discrimination and "unethical and inappropriate" behaviour by board members appear to have won a groundswell of support amongst the programme's Olympic hopefuls.
A letter signed by 13 athletes and two coaches on the programme expressed concern on Oct 1 in a letter to BBSA chair Poulton. The missive also raises a series of questions about the failure to hire De La Hunty.
The athletes also insist a UK Sport investigation into the BBSA - which began in June following complaints raised by Rattigan - must be "open and transparent".
The BBSA claimed on Oct 1 that it took the "unprecedented step" to fire Rattigan after he "fundamentally breached" the directors' code of conduct and "undermined the very organisation which he was appointed to serve".
Rattigan, in response, aimed most of his criticism at Poulton as he vowed to pursue his dismissal via the courts. "Over the past 11 months, I have worked hard to address a number of serious allegations about unethical and inappropriate behaviour by the chair and several board members of the BBSA," he wrote.
"I have acted without fear or favour in my actions, taking a high performance, duty of care, sport governance and ethical route in carrying out my duties as a member of the BBSA.
"I looked forward to a fair and honest investigation, however, I require clarity around the process and witness statements which to date has not been forthcoming."
The athletes, meanwhile, say they felt "misled" by Poulton over the failure to bring De La Hunty on board as performance director, despite the fact he had already started working with them informally and funding had been secured to cover his salary. The BBSA has been approached again for comment.