Laureus Awards: Lewis Hamilton and Geraint Thomas nominated for prestigious awards

Lewis Hamilton and Geraint Thomas

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Monaco on 18 February

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas are among the nominees for the Laureus World Sports Awards.

The Britons have been nominated for Sportsman of the Year and Breakthrough of the Year respectively.

Hamilton faces competition from world number one tennis star Novak Djokovic, World Cup winner Luka Modric and basketball great LeBron James.

The winners will be revealed at a ceremony in Monaco next month.

Reigning US Open tennis champion Naomi Osaka, who dramatically beat 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams in the final, features alongside BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner Thomas in the breakthrough category.

Golf’s 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who won the season-ending Tour Championship in September to claim his first victory in five years, has been nominated for Comeback of the Year.

American gymnast Simone Biles, who won four world titles in 2018, and tennis duo Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber are among the contenders for the Sportswoman of the Year award.



Full list of awards and nominees

Sportsman of the Year

Novak Djokovic (SRB) – Tennis

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) – Formula 1

LeBron James (USA) – Basketball

Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) – Athletics

Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – Football

Luka Modric (CRO) – Football

Sportswoman of the Year

Simone Biles (USA) – Gymnastics

Simona Halep (ROU) – Tennis

Angelique Kerber (GER) – Tennis

Ester Ledecka (CZE) – Skiing / Snowboarding

Daniela Ryf (SWI) – Ironman Triathlon

Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) – Skiing

Team of the Year

European Ryder Cup team – Golf

France World Cup team – Football

Golden State Warriors (USA) – Basketball

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team (Germany) – Formula 1

Norway Winter Olympic team

Real Madrid (ESP) – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Ana Carrasco (ESP) – Motor Cycling

Sofia Goggia (ITA) – Skiing

Jakob Ingebrigsten (NOR) – Athletics

Naomi Osaka (JPN) – Tennis

Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Cycling

Briana Williams (JAM) – Athletics

Comeback of the Year

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) – Skating

Mark McMorris (CAN) – Snowboarding

Bibian Mentel-Spee (NLD) – Paralympic Snowboarding

Vinesh Phogat (IND) – Wrestling

Lindsey Vonn (USA) – Skiing

Tiger Woods (USA) – Golf

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Henrieta Farkasova (SVK) – Skiing

Diede De Groot (NLD) – Wheelchair Tennis

Brian McKeever (CAN) – Cross-country skiing

Oksana Masters (USA) – Cross-country skiing

Grigorios Polychronidis (GRE) – Boccia

Markus Rehm (GER) – Athletics

Action Sportsperson of the Year

Maya Gabeira (BRA) – Surfing

Anna Gasser (AUT) – Snowboarding

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) – Surfing

Chloe Kim (USA) – Snowboarding

Gabriel Medina (BRA) – Surfing

Shaun White (USA) – Snowboarding

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Jess Varnish: Cyclist loses employment case at tribunal

Jess Varnish

Jess Varnish appeared at the employment tribunal in December where she was cross-examined for over five hours by British Cycling lawyers

Ex-Great Britain cyclist Jess Varnish has failed in her attempt to prove she was an employee of British Cycling and UK Sport at an employment tribunal.

The decision means the 28-year-old is highly unlikely to be able to sue both bodies for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination after being dropped by GB in 2016.

Varnish says British Cycling’s control over her made it akin to her employer.

But the body’s lawyers said the deal was more like a university grant.

“Jess and her legal team continue to digest the 43-page judgement and will look to offer a statement to media on Thursday,” said a spokesperson for the cyclist.

UK Sport said the judge’s decision gave them “confidence” in the way relationships between athletes, governing bodies and itself are managed, but the body added it will “reflect on the concerns that were raised through this case”.

Former European team sprint champion and world silver medallist Varnish is due to have a baby this week.

The landmark ruling is a blow to any other Olympic athletes who had considered suing UK Sport and/or their respective governing bodies.

UK Sport gives more than 1,000 athletes up to £25,000 a year tax-free, but it does not offer benefits such as holidays, sick pay and pensions.

Offering improved contractual terms could mean fewer grants are awarded to athletes as well as more cases of wrongful dismissal being brought.

Athlete welfare has been a topical issue with UK Sport and various governing bodies being criticised in the past for a ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality.


Varnish is a European gold medallist in the women’s team sprint

How did UK Sport and British Cycling react?

In a statement after the result was released, UK Sport thanked the judge for considering the case.

“The verdict provides reassurance that the relationship between UK Sport, national governing bodies and athletes is as it has always intended to be, which is to provide the means and support for talented athletes to achieve their dreams of realising success at the Olympic/Paralympic Games,” it added.

“While this verdict did not find Jessica Varnish to be an employee or worker of UK Sport or British Cycling, we have already taken action to strengthen the duty of care and welfare provided to athletes and are ensuring that avenues for raising any concerns are effective and appropriate.

“It also gives us confidence that the structure of the relationship between other national governing bodies, their athletes and UK Sport can continue in a similar way, but we will reflect on the concerns that were raised through this case when finalising our future strategy for post Tokyo.”

UK Sport added that it “regretted” that “pursuing this case was considered the best course of action [Varnish] had to address the concerns she felt”.

“We hope Jess feels proud of the success she achieved through cycling and we wish her all the very best for the future,” it added.

British Cycling said its decision to contest the case was founded on “the best interests of riders who represent Great Britain” and that its “relationship with them is not one of employer-employee but that of a service provider supporting talented and dedicated athletes to achieve their best.”

“We very much regret that Jess was advised to pursue the route of an employment tribunal when we had made significant efforts to reach a resolution which all parties regarded as equitable.

“Thanks to a lot of hard work by staff and riders the culture of the Great Britain Cycling Team is changed for the better since Jess first raised her concerns and we hope to welcome her to the National Cycling Centre as we would any other rider who has represented Great Britain.”

What is the background to the case?

Varnish began legal proceedings after claiming she was dropped from the UK’s elite cycling programme after failing to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and told to “go and have a baby”.

An investigation found that British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton, who had already resigned from the body, had used sexist language.

The Australian was cleared of eight other charges, including making the “baby” comment.

British Cycling maintains Varnish was dropped on the basis of performances alone.

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March 2017: Varnish ‘relieved truth is coming out’

What happened during the hearing?

Varnish attempted to prove she was an employee at the tribunal in December by saying coaches had “extreme control” over cyclists.

Examples included, she said, coaches listening through hotel bedroom doors while away on training camps when she was 15 years old, regular blood tests and signing performance contracts with coaches.

She told the tribunal: “We had emails from coaches saying if you don’t sign this, you won’t get paid this month.”

Her claims were backed by her partner and former GB BMX star Liam Phillips and her agent James Harper.

Dr Richard Freeman, who was involved in cycling’s Jiffy bag scandal, was also due to attend the hearing.

However, the former Team Sky doctor pulled out on legal grounds as he is set to appear at a General Medical Council hearing on 6 February to explain how a mystery delivery of testosterone arrived at Team Sky’s headquarters in 2011.

British Cycling’s lawyer, Thomas Linden QC, told the tribunal that Varnish was telling “half-truths”.

“This is a case of the highest public interest and extremely important to athletes, sport and the funding bodies, so it is vital a true and fair picture is presented,” he said.

“What we have witnessed here is the difference between self-interest and the public interest.”


BBC sports editor Dan Roan

This judgement almost certainly brings to an end a bitter three-year long saga that has laid bare the tensions behind Britain’s elite sporting culture, and which was arguably the biggest challenge the country’s sporting establishment had ever faced.

It will come as a huge relief to UK Sport in particular, which faced the prospect of being forced to overhaul the whole way it funds and contracts athletes if Varnish had won.

Athletes would have gained more rights, but there would have been less money to go round. And that would have caused great concern to many, given the years of medal success the current system has achieved.

Varnish – who is expecting her first child and is yet to comment – is considering whether to appeal. But she can at least take pride that her long battle against the sporting establishment has not been entirely in vain.

Her case almost certainly encouraged a number of other athletes in other sports to speak out about welfare concerns, their rights, and the balance of power with governing bodies, and the control they are put under.

And it is significant that both UK Sport and British Cycling now say they have taken on board the issues she raised and will review the way athletes are treated. The next generation of British sports stars may well owe Varnish a debt of gratitude in future years.

What next?

Employment lawyer Libby Payne told the BBC that others could still follow in Varnish’s lead.

“Whilst this judgment will come as a relief to UK Sport and British Cycling it is likely to be only temporary respite,” she said.

“Varnish could potentially appeal the judgment, but even if she does not, the underlying issues regarding protection and support afforded to athletes receiving funding are not going away.

“Other athletes may try to bring claims along similar lines to this one, or seek to pursue alternative claims in the civil courts unless changes are made.”

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British Cycling: BBC obtains email at centre of testosterone delivery

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July 2018: Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Freeman – We never crossed the line

An email at the centre of the controversy over a mystery delivery of testosterone to the National Cycling Centre has been obtained by the BBC.

The correspondence, dated 18 October 2011, is from a staff member at one of the country’s leading medical suppliers, Fit4Sport Limited, to Dr Richard Freeman, the former chief medic at British Cycling and Team Sky.

It shows that five months passed between the testosterone gel arriving at their headquarters and Freeman receiving confirmation it had been delivered in error.

Following a General Medical Council (GMC) investigation, Freeman faces an allegation that he ordered the banned drug in May 2011 to administer to an athlete to boost their performance, then lied to conceal his motive for the order.

Testosterone is outlawed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Freeman’s case will be heard next month at a misconduct tribunal that threatens to cast another shadow over the country’s most successful sport, following a series of controversies.

The medic has also been charged with contacting Fit4Sport to ask for confirmation that the order was sent in error to Manchester’s velodrome – home to Team Sky and British Cycling – despite knowing this had not taken place.

Freeman is also alleged to have lied to UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) investigators in February 2017 by stating the testosterone had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff.

The email

BBC Sport can reveal that on 18 October 2011, a member of staff at Fit4Sport wrote an email titled ‘Testo Gel’ to Freeman, telling him that they could “confirm that I have now received back the Testogel 50mg pack of 30 sachets which we sent in error to you”.

It continues: “This will be destroyed on our premises. Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you, we will revise our procedure to ensure incorrect pharmaceutical products are not shipped out again.”


The email from a member of staff at Fit4Sport Limited to former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman

The background

In March 2017, Team Sky’s then medical director and psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters told the Sunday Times he had immediately been made aware of the delivery of testosterone on 18 May 2011, but was told by Freeman that the delivery was made in error.

Peters said that was confirmed by the supplier by phone that day, and that he asked Freeman to send it back and to ask for written confirmation from the supplier that it had been a mistake.

Peters said he was shown this and was satisfied it had been an administrative error so did not inform team boss Dave Brailsford.

It is now known that the written confirmation was not sent by Fit4Sport to Freeman for a further five months.

In its terms and conditions online, the company says that medications are “non-returnable unless there is a discrepancy due to supplier error”, and that they must then be returned “within 3 working days”.

On its website, Fit4Sport claims to be “the leading sports medical supplier within professional football and rugby league”, with a “strong presence” in cricket and with national squads for various governing bodies.

In pre-hearing information published by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, it is claimed Freeman’s “motive for his actions, in respect of the untrue statements and communications with Fit4Sport Ltd, were to conceal his motive for placing the order”.

Fit4Sport told the BBC it would not comment while the GMC proceedings were ongoing.

In November 2017, British Cycling announced its intention to sever ties with Fit4Sport because they said the company – along with Freeman – had not co-operated with their investigation.

The company insisted it had complied with requests from the GMC and Ukad.

Freeman, the doctor who received a mystery medical package for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011, is also accused of “inappropriately” providing medical treatment to non-athletes and failing to inform three patients’ GPs of “medication prescribed and reasons for prescribing”.

The GMC also claims that Freeman, who resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 because of ill health, “failed to maintain an adequate record management system”.

He denies any wrongdoing and told BBC Sport in July that he would “clear everything up” over the testosterone delivery after the GMC investigation.

In a statement, Team Sky said: “We support the important work of the GMC and the Medical Tribunal and have co-operated fully with their investigation to date. It would not be appropriate to comment further on the specific details of the case in advance of the forthcoming hearing.”

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Ex-British Cycling doctor Freeman charged with ordering testosterone for athlete

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July 2018: Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Freeman – We never crossed the line

Former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman will face a charge he ordered testosterone to enhance the performance of an athlete at a tribunal next month.

Freeman is alleged to have lied to “conceal his motive” for the order of 30 sachets of Testogel to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in 2011.

The use of testosterone by athletes is banned at all times.

Freeman has been charged following a General Medical Council investigation.

His case will be heard at an independent medical practitioners tribunal in Manchester that is scheduled to run from 6 February to 5 March.

The GMC claims Freeman’s motive for ordering testosterone from Fit4Sport Limited in May 2011 was to administer it “to an athlete to improve their athletic performance.”

It is alleged Freeman then made “untrue statements” in denying he made the order and advising it “had been made in error.”

Freeman also faces claims that in October 2011 he contacted Fit4Sport Limited to ask for confirmation the order had been “sent in error, returned and would be destroyed” by the company, despite “knowing that this had not taken place.”

The former British Cycling chief medic is also alleged to have lied to UK Anti-Doping investigators by stating the testosterone had been ordered for a non-athlete member of staff.

In pre-hearing information published by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, a regulatory committee independent from the GMC, it is claimed Freeman’s “motive for his actions, in respect of the untrue statements and communications with Fit4Sport Limited, were to conceal his motive for placing the order.”

Freeman, the doctor who received a mystery medical package for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2011, is also accused of “inappropriately” providing medical treatment to non-athletes and failing to inform three patients’ GPs of “medication prescribed and reasons for prescribing.”

The GMC also claims that Freeman, who resigned from British Cycling in October 2017 because of ill health “failed to maintain an adequate record management system” and the tribunal will also look into his failure to ensure records on a laptop that was stolen in Greece in 2014 could be retrieved.

Freeman denies any wrongdoing and told BBC Sport in July that he would “clear everything up” over the testosterone delivery after the conclusion of the GMC investigation.

British Cycling said it “continued to support” the GMC’s investigation having “raised concerns relating to Dr Freeman’s fitness to practice.”

“British Cycling suspended Dr Richard Freeman in March 2017 and subsequently initiated an investigation into his conduct as an employee of the federation,” said the governing body in a statement.

“British Cycling requested that Dr Freeman be interviewed as part of the investigation: however, he declined to make himself available for interview, citing grounds of ill health.”

The testosterone delivery to the national velodrome was revealed by The Sunday Times in March 2017.

Dr Steve Peters, the Team Sky psychiatrist and former head of medicine at British Cycling, told the newspaper that Freeman told him the order “had never been placed and so must have been sent in error.”

Peters claimed that Freeman had contacted the supplier and confirmed this and that he subsequently asked Freeman to request written confirmation, which he saw and was therefore satisfied it was “an administrative error”.


BBC sports editor Dan Roan

British Cycling has endured plenty of controversies in recent years, but this has the potential to be the most damaging yet.

UK Anti-Doping will be monitoring next month’s GMC tribunal closely, and depending on the evidence and outcome, could reopen their investigation into British Cycling and Team Sky, which they closed 14 months ago.

But at a time when the future of Team Sky is shrouded in uncertainty after the withdrawal of its principle backer, this case has already cast another shadow over a sport that has delivered so much glory for Britain over the last decade.

The fact that the GMC has seen fit to charge a man who was the sport’s most senior doctor with ordering a banned performance-enhancing drug to dope a rider – and then lying to cover it up – means yet more negative headlines and suspicion in a sport desperately trying to restore faith.

Privately, British Cycling claims it has seen no evidence to support the sensational allegation that a competitor was helped to cheat, but it must now hope that Dr Freeman can prove that the testosterone was intended for a member of staff, and not a rider.

And that he does not reveal anything else that does any more damage to the sport’s credibility.

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90-year-old American cyclist to be stripped of title after failing drugs test

Cycling Track

A 90-year-old American cyclist has been given a public warning for violating anti-doping laws.

Carl Grove claimed contaminated meat was the reason he tested positive for epitrenbolone after the US Masters Track National Championships.

Grove, the oldest participant in the event, had won the men’s 90-94 sprint title in July.

The US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) said he would be stripped of the record following the violation.

Usada said Grove, from Bristol, Indiana, had provided information that showed contaminated meat he had eaten the evening before competing had “more likely than not” caused the positive test.

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