Michael Pavitt

Control the controllable.

The mantra has been much repeated across British Cycling and Team Sky in recent years, highlighting the need for cyclists to focus solely on their own performance, rather than the environment around them. It is something which their youthful team for the first International Cycling Union (UCI) Track World Cup would do well to bear in mind.

Beginning in Glasgow today, the competition is the first major post-Rio 2016 gathering of the elite cycling nations and effectively fires the starting gun on the next Olympic cycle as teams build for Tokyo 2020. This is reflected in British Cycling essentially sending a development squad to the event. The refreshing of the team gets the ball rolling in their tough task of maintaining their domination of the Olympic track cycling medals table, having won seven golds at London 2012 and six at Rio 2016.

Four-years earlier, Wales’ Elinor Barker made her World Cup debut in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome and Scotland’s Katie Archibald followed soon after, with the duo now boasting Olympic team pursuit gold medals after Rio 2016. It will be hoped the latest batch of academy riders can follow in their path, with Archibald taking up the role of senior rider for the weekend’s action.

While the focus on the track is firmly focused on looking forward for the next four years, eyes are being glanced back at the past away from it. 

A troubled year for the leadership of British Cycling began shortly after success at a home Track Cycling World Championships in London, when then technical director Shane Sutton was accused of inappropriate and discriminatory language by Jess Varnish.

The sprinter, cast aside when her contract was not renewed, alleged the Australian told her she was "too old" and that she should "go and have a baby". Last week British Cycling upheld the allegation made by Varnish, effectively ending Sutton’s hopes of a return to the federation.

Any return for Shane Sutton to British Cycling now appears over after their investigation upheld a complaint against him ©Getty Images
Any return for Shane Sutton to British Cycling now appears over after their investigation upheld a complaint against him ©Getty Images

Sutton, who admitted to telling Varnish she needed to "lose some timber" to boost her performance, told Sky Sports: "I can categorically state I never made those comments I was originally alleged to have made.

"I'm pretty sure people will be sitting back going 'well, he's going to appeal' - which is going to happen now. I will take it from there.

"I will produce the evidence, everything comes out in the dirty washing.

"I am quite sure the evidence this time will prevail and I will win."

While Sutton hopes he will "win", the truth is nobody is likely to emerge from the case as the victor. The 59-year-old has seen his reputation dealt a blow, regardless of any evidence emerging to contradict the verdict reached by British Cycling. The governing body has also undoubtedly lost a highly regarded coach and a key cog in the machine which has ground out Olympic success over the past decade.

A fresh start appears on the cards for most of the parties involved in the saga, with Sutton expected to take his coaching credentials elsewhere and British Cycling seeking a performance director. The organisation’s chief executive Ian Drake has also announced he will depart in April. It remains to be seen, however, whether Varnish could return to the fold.

Evidently there are lessons to be learned by British Cycling and they will likely be poured over when an independent review into the culture of their World Class Programme, led by Annamarie Phelps, is published.

While inheriting possibly the biggest shake-up at the organisation in recent years and having to implement any recommendations detailed by the review, the key task of the performance director will be to continue the success on the track.

The last person to hold the role is widely credited with kick starting the domination on the track, and has also found themselves under pressure in recent months. Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford, who arguably drummed in the "control the controllable" mantra more than any other person, has lacked control of his situation in recent months.

Brailsford has admitted to adding "a huge amount of petrol on the fire" and making things a "damn sight worse" in his responses to the media after reports about a medical package delivered to Team Sky at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné.

Sir Dave Brailsford's handling of the recent reports of a medical package back in 2011 has been questioned ©Getty Images
Sir Dave Brailsford's handling of the recent reports of a medical package back in 2011 has been questioned ©Getty Images

According to the Daily Mail, the package had been delivered by British Cycling coach Simon Cope to then Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman, and coincided with five-time Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins winning the seven-stage Dauphine Libere road race, a traditional build-up race to the Tour de France.

The medical package has been confirmed by British Cycling to have been for a Team Sky rider, but reports suggest it did not contain the substance triamcinolone, which had been at the centre of controversy involving Wiggins after the Russian-linked Fancy Bears hacking group leaked his confidential World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) therapeutic use exemption (TUE) data, along with several other athletes.

While Team Sky and Wiggins have denied accusations of wrongdoing, the silence surrounding the package has allowed doubts to fester over the credibility of both team and rider. Perhaps, while a UK Anti-Doping investigation into possible wrongdoing takes place, the silence will continue. Detailing the contents of the package would seem the sole way for the case to be dealt with and for Team Sky to regain some control.

The leak of the TUE data by Fancy Bears and claims by former Team Sky rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, that he and his British team-mates were offered the painkiller tramadol ahead of the 2012 Road World Championships, have certainly raised questions over recent weeks.

When the Fancy Bears leaks first came to attention, the general premise was that they were designed to distract from the Russian doping crisis. It is hard to argue otherwise and the majority of leaks have raised little concern. They have, however, provided the chance for an open debate to be had over therapeutic use exemptions - allowed under doping rules - and substances which can treat illness, but can also have a performance enhancing effect.

Brailsford and Team Sky could play an important role in provoking such a debate in the coming months, which would go some way towards boosting their credibility, which has come under fire recently.