A reply from Andy Train in response to the open letter published from the Chair of British Canoeing Professor John Coyne CBE
I've woken up this morning to the BBC's headline news of Jess Varnish and the cover-up in British Cycling.
You, and the rest of the Board have been put on notice by an extensive and detailed motion concerning athlete welfare from Teresa Gregory and Ivan Lawler and so far as I am aware have done nothing. I am a teacher. You have been in education for 40 years. Such a motion should have set alarm bells ringing. At the very least, you should be asking what's going on in our sport and crucially should realise that members' feel isolated and ignored.
Most notably, where is Albert Woods? Why is he not investigating and asking the questions?
How does this all look? Ivan Lawler, who raises difficult questions within the sport and stands for President. The Board's response: change the rules to prevent him standing for President and ensure Albert Woods is kept in place.
Your public service over the years may have involved chairing many cosy committees but on this occasion I fear your reputation is now at stake.
I repeat my request: For the sake of British Canoeing (and your own reputation) I would ask you to withdraw your support for the EGM, ensure the Board cancels the EGM and allow a free election at the AGM.
On Friday, 10 March 2017, 23:38, ANDY TRAIN <> wrote:
I write to express my extreme disappointment at the points made in your open letter, the only redeeming features being that the letter was open and you had the courage to put your email address and invite comment. In the dim and distant past, I took part in 5 Olympics and also won 10 world championship medals. These days, I coach a number of international paddlers and teach in a special school. I also spend many days bell-boating with schools. Last year, I organised a number of regattas involving thousands of children and effectively put paddle-sport in Worcestershire primary schools on a par with our major sports. Yesterday, I spent a fabulous day on the Birmingham Mainline Canal with children from a school where 99% of them have English as a second language. The teacher said to me that the experience for those children was invaluable - they may have been brought half way round the world to Birmingham but hadn't seen beyond the end of their street!
The content of your letter leads me to believe that if the Board achieves its aims at the forthcoming EGM, its next step will be to replace any form of democracy within British Canoeing in favour of the Chinese system of petitioning. Perhaps I'm being over-optimistic expecting that much?
On your CFE Research website it states that you have, "...a belief that high-quality research produced better information which would lead to better decisions in public life." Could you please tell me what Albert Woods has done with his position to benefit British Canoeing nationally or internationally? In fact, could you tell me anything he's actually done? Since you pride yourself on high-quality research, I'm sure you'll be able to respond on this point immediately with an extensive list of his achievements backed up by details of your sources.
Notwithstanding the above, it never ceases to amaze me how those who purport to run sport seem to learn no lessons from it. Your proposals put great emphasis upon the international role of the Life President with an Honorary President being kept firmly in their place domestically. Those of us in canoeing know that where paddlers have established themselves internationally for several years, we have then had great difficulty bringing the next generation through because they have had little or no exposure to international competition. I notice you are not proposing a nominations panel for the position of Life President. Instead, members will be given the choice of whether to vote for or not vote at all - rather like the political systems of many a totalitarian state over the years (which sooner or later always fail). So a Life President free to make bad decisions for many years, or no decisions and simply attend one lavish reception after another all in the name of British Canoeing, having been appointed by a handful of people who also achieved office without election!
I find it hard to believe that Britain (which claims democracy is a fundamental value), of all nations within the canoeing world, will even contemplate putting forward a non-elected 'politician' rather than an elected and highly respected multiple world champion and Olympian.
In true Soviet style you say the current "system is open and involves all members, but may not necessarily be the best system for determining ..." and talk about "developing" the system. You justify the terms of the EGM by saying that, "During the last 25 years there have been very few times when this post has been contested." Have you not understood that THERE IS NOW A CONTESTED ELECTION!!! I'm sure you are aware of the recent problems in British Cycling surrounding bullying and intimidation. Are you really happy to issue a 79 page document, allow half an hour discussion and then deny members the democratic right to appoint their president? Is this really what making "better decisions in public life" is about?
This all begs the question, "Where is Albert?" This whole episode simply points to him looking after his own interests over the future of British Canoeing. I am sure that Ivan Lawler will be an altogether different president, putting the interests of our sport first. For the sake of British Canoeing (and your own reputation) I would ask you to withdraw your support for the EGM, ensure the Board cancels the EGM and allow a free election at the AGM.
I look forward to hearing from you.