Athletes have rejected a proposed mediation by Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton ©Getty Images

A group of 87 Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS) athletes have said they will reject a "any unilaterally imposed mediation process" proposed by the organisation, repeating a call for senior officials at the organisation to be step aside while an investigation takes place into alleged governance and culture failings.

BCS President Sarah Storey and high-performance director Chris Le Bihan have been accused of overseeing governance and cultural failings at the organisation.

A letter published on March 7 alleged that there is a "toxic" culture within BCS, "safety of athletes is not a primary concern", best practices and athlete feedback are disregarded when it comes to governance issues and that the organisation lacks transparency.

A second open letter criticised the BCS response to their demands, athletes claimed that following "years of being ignored, belittled, and ridiculed, we have no trust that the current leadership will do anything meaningful to address the toxic culture."

The BCS Board of Directors told insidethegames in a statement on Saturday (March 19), that it was committed to "identifying and resolving the issues brought forward by athletes through a forum".

The organisation added that an independent mediation process has been initiated.

Global Athlete has published the latest response from 87 athletes, who reportedly competed for Canada between 2014 and 2022.

The athletes have reiterated their opposition to the current mediation plan, while a further call was made to remove Storey and Le Bihan while an investigation takes place.

"We will continue to outright reject any unilaterally imposed mediation process, where the athletes have no input into the choice of mediator, or a process which does not include the participation of all impacted athletes whether by proxy or their chosen representative," the statement read.

"The athletes believe that mediation will not result in a meaningful resolution until a comprehensive, independent and transparent investigation is conducted into the matters brought forward.

"We take this opportunity to remind you that the matters brought forward include, but are not limited to: a toxic culture, disregard for safety and athlete well-being, lack of transparency and communication, and inadequate governance.

"In accordance with safe sport requirements and best practices in Canada, these matters must be investigated.

"We are confident that the investigation findings will support the complaints brought forward, and from there serve as a platform to re-build with an open mind.

"We continue to believe that BCS is not able to move forward to address the athlete concerns in a positive or productive manner with the current leadership, and once again recommend that at the very least, the Board President/acting CEO and High-Performance Director are placed on leave until this process is complete."

The Athletes' Advisory Council of USA Bobsled/Skeleton (USABS) offered its backing to the athletes call for change on March 19, with their message shared by Kaillie Humphries, who switched allegiance from Canada to the United States three years ago following complaints of harassment.

Humphries called for Storey and Le Bihan to lose their jobs, claiming they did not act when the athlete reported verbal and mental abuse she alleges to have suffered at the hands of head coach Todd Hays.

All three remain in their roles.

Bobsleigh pilot Justin Kripps has supported a call for change in the organisation's leadership ©Getty Images
Bobsleigh pilot Justin Kripps has supported a call for change in the organisation's leadership ©Getty Images

Humphries, who won monobob gold for the US at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, won an appeal at the Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada last July to have her allegations investigated again, after it was found the original investigation ordered by BCS was not thorough, fair or reasonable.

Canadian bobsleigh pilot Justin Kripps, who won two-man gold at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics and four-man bronze at Beijing 2022, has also echoed calls for change at the organisation.

"I support the athletes of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton in demanding change in the governance and leadership at our NSO," Kripps wrote.

"The fundamental rules of governance are not being followed and thus there is no one holding the leadership accountable.

"I can only speak to my own experience, and while I haven’t felt unsafe or mistreated, I’m aware that is not the case for many.

"Winning an Olympic medal shouldn’t be a prerequisite to being treated with respect and it breaks my heart to hear the stories coming to light.

"I encourage the athletes who have had those experiences to file complaints with safe sport.

"We have some phenomenal athletes, coaches and staff at BCS, but clearly none of us can move forward unless there is change at the top."