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War of words erupts between rival British crews on eve of new bobsleigh season

The new World Cup season starts on November 20.

Britain's beleaguered bobsleigh programme risks descending into civil war on the eve of the new season after two World Cup-bound crews called on fellow squad members to stop "sulking" over recent political developments within their governing body, the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association.

A letter signed by members of the respective teams led by Brad Hall and Mica McNeill rubbished claims made by a rival group of athletes last month that the removal of bobsleigh development officer Colin Rattigan from the BBSA's board would have a significant, adverse effect on their chances of success.

Despite its call for an end to what it called the "ludicrous" in-fighting within the domestic sport, the letter earned short shrift from the opposing camp, with one figure branding Hall's and McNeill's crews "spoilt brats" when asked for a response to the letter by the PA news agency.

PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games – Day Fifteen
GB Bobsleigh lost its funding after a poor performance in Pyeongchang (David Davies/PA)

Hall and McNeill are preparing for the start of the new World Cup season in Latvia on November 20, while other crews will return on the second-tier Europe Cup circuit prior to the reintroduction of four-man teams into the World Cup schedule early next year.

Their new campaign starts amid a backdrop of recent acrimony which was reignited when Rattigan was dismissed by the BBSA in October, four months after he raised complaints which yielded a new and ongoing investigation into governance issues by UK Sport.

An initial letter, remotely signed by 13 athletes and two coaches under the collective title of "British Bobsleigh Athletes", raised concerns over Rattigan's removal, and said it threatened his "exceptional" plan which they said they felt sure would bring "collective success, funding and medals."

The BBSA's bobsleigh programme lost its UK Sport funding following a poor performance at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, itself following a UK Sport probe which raised concerns over governance issues at the organisation.

Mica McNeill
Mica McNeill is considered one of Britain's best bobsleigh prospects (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Hall and McNeill said they were not consulted over the initial letter, and added the fact that their programme is now centrally unfunded made a mockery of claims that Rattigan's aborted vision could have led to such a spectacular turnaround in fortunes.

Their response, seen by the PA news agency, states: "Based upon our experiences we cannot agree with the statement made by "British Bobsleigh Athletes".

"Put simply, we have a board without the means to progress the sport in any way, shape or form, and until that changes, it is down to us as individuals to secure funding from third parties, which will always create an imbalance.

"To suggest a great platform was created and then shelved is not correct without the ability to actually implement it.

Sochi Winter Olympic Games – Day 16
Great Britain earned a retrospective bronze medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics (Andrew Milligan/PA)

"We understand that this is frustrating for a lot of athletes including ourselves. However, we all have to deal with the current situation, and we can sit and sulk or we can look to achieve these improvements ourselves.

"From an outside perspective, because in essence that is what we now are, there seems to be a power struggle within the BBSA. This seems ludicrous at a time when we should all be pulling together."

The BBSA declined to comment on the latest developments, but is understood to be broadly unconcerned by direct relationships between crews, which have essentially reverted to being independent entities since the withdrawal of funding.

Hall finished fifth in the two-man world rankings at the end of last season, whilst McNeill, who bucked the trend of disappointment in Pyeongchang with a credible eighth place finish, is widely regarded as the British team's best hope of getting back on track.

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CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States16171144
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia10141034
Great BritainGreat Britain79925
Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events

· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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