By Mike Rowbottom

BBC Sports_Personality_of_the_Year_award_2011_logoDecember 2 - A group of women MPs have accused the BBC of "ignoring women's achievements" in this year's Sports Personality of  Year award, for which all of the 10 shortlisted contenders are male.

The group has written to BBC director general Mark Thompson complaining that the move has undermined efforts to encourage female participation in sport and requesting a meeting to discuss the "bias".

In the meantime, the BBC has released a statement saying it will review the nomination process for next year's Sports Personality of the Year award.

"We stand by the current process but have committed to take on board what happened this year," the statement said.

"We will review the short listing process for next year's show."

Responding to the announcement, Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF), said:  "We welcome decision to review the nomination process.

"The huge public outcry has hammered home the point that women's sport has a far greater fan base than the media often gives it credit for, hopefully now we'll see a new process that fully reflects the full breadth of excellence in British sport."

In their letter to Thompson, Labour's Stella Creasy, Alison McGovern and Joan Walley and Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson said: "We are very concerned that, this year, not one single woman has been shortlisted for the public vote.

"This outcome is extremely unhelpful to the promotion of women's sport in the UK.

"It will result in the annual TV programme – usually a great occasion for British sport – ignoring women's achievements in 2011.

"This bias has led to a number of outstanding sporting achievements by women being entirely disregarded.

Sarah Stevenson_in_action
"Rebecca Adlington, Keri-Anne Payne, Victoria Pendleton, Chrissie Wellington, Nicola Adams, Jessica Ennis, Sarah Stevenson (pictured), Beth Tweddle, Hannah England and Kath Grainger, among others, have all been fantastically successful within their respective fields, yet none have made the shortlist."

The MPs have asked whether the rules could be altered to ensure there were men and women on the shortlist in future years.

"A great deal of work is done each year by the sporting community to encourage women and girls into sport, and the absence of women from this award severely undermines those efforts," they added.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of London 2012, has expressed his surprise at the shortlist and a number of sportswomen criticised the exclusion of their colleagues.

There have also been suggestions that the panel of papers and magazines which produce the shortlist should have a woman's sports magazine, such as Sportsister, added to it.

Adlington, who won silver and gold at this year's World Swimming Championships, has said it is "a shame" that there are no women on the shortlist but she told BBC Sport that she thought the 10 choices this year were "rightly deserved".

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