The decline of trust in British sport since the London Olympics: Team Sky’s fall from grace

Paul Dimeo, April Henning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


The success of Team Sky has been over-shadowed by a range of allegations and controversies, leaving significant doubts around their much-vaunted pro anti-doping stance. This chapter aims to contextualise these doubts within the wider frame of British sport, and more specifically the decline of trust. We trace the emergence of Team Sky from the National Lottery funded track team, arguing that the London Olympics was a pinnacle of medal-winning and public admiration. The turn towards professional road cycling was accompanied by new approaches to medicalisation. The Fancy Bears hack of WADA’s database, whistleblower insights, Government inquiries, and media scrutiny have presented the public with sufficient evidence and critique to undermine the reputation of Team Sky’s management and riders. Other factors have contributed to the decline of trust, not least evidence of doping from the Russia investigations, the leaked IAAF blood files, the role of the IAAF senior managers, the conflict between WADA and the IOC over banning Russian athletes, and other related debates. We argue that the high-profile debate over the use of drugs in British professional cycling can be understood as symptomatic of a wider malaise affecting British sport, which in turn can be contextualised, explained, and seen as part of a broader shift in scepticism regarding political leaders and media organisations. The British professional cycling team, Team Sky, represents both microcosm and protagonist in these wider social and cultural developments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDoping in Cycling
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Perspectives
EditorsBertrand Fincoeur, John Gleaves, Fabien Ohl
ISBN (Electronic)9781351103879
ISBN (Print)9780367663858, 9781138477902
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2018


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