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GB Badminton chiefs to investigate alleged "toxic environment" in the sport

Rio bronze medallist Marcus Ellis and his mixed doubles partner Lauren Smith have had their say.

British badminton chiefs have vowed to launch an investigation into allegations of a "toxic environment" in the sport in the wake of a controversial Olympic selection process.

Rio bronze medallist Marcus Ellis said players were forced to operate in a "hostile, tepid environment", whilst his mixed doubles partner Lauren Smith accused the governing body of fostering a "domineering culture".

The duo's anger follows the decision to deny Ellis and his men's doubles partner Chris Langridge the chance to build on their Rio bronze medal, in favour of relatively untested duo Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.

European Games 2019 – Day Nine
Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge will not get the chance to build on their Rio bronze medal (Martin Rickett/PA)

GB Badminton said in a statement that it was prepared to engage with the players concerned upon their return from Japan, and had referred themselves to funding body UK Sport.

The statement read: "GB Badminton has committed to engage fully with all players on their return from Tokyo to listen, understand and tackle, head on, any challenges that might exist either within an individual player programme or the wider programme itself.

"Furthermore, GB Badminton has already requested that UK Sport initiate a culture health check to take place as soon as possible after the Games.

"The situation we are in now is very disappointing and is a significant distraction to everyone involved with the GB badminton team – players, coaches, and support team – and all parties recognise that the sole focus, right now, must be on preparing to arrive in Tokyo in the best physical and mental condition, ready to make Great Britain proud, as we did in Rio 2016."

Ellis, who will compete in the mixed doubles alongside Smith, told the BBC: "All the athletes prepping for the Olympics are now in this hostile, tepid environment where half of us can't even communicate with one another because the waters are that muddied."

Ellis and Langridge won an initial appeal against their omission from the Games, but that was over-ruled by an independent panel, which found that the governing body had correctly adhered to its published selection protocols.

In a statement on his Instagram account, Langridge wrote: "Other players have, over the last few weeks, spoken out about the toxic and unsupportive environment at the centre.

"I too have felt saddened and failed by this organisation, there have been many times at the centre when I haven't been coached as I was not deemed a top player, even after some of the results I have achieved.

"The frustration I have for how the selection process was concluded is something I will learn to live with. I am truly sad that this is how my career for a sport I love so passionately and have given so much for could end."

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Medal winner Ellie Simmonds pictured in 2016
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