Badminton stars Marcus Ellis, Lauren Smith and Chloe Birch ditched in post-Olympics fall-out

Team GB stars Marcus Ellis, Lauren Smith and Chloe Birch have coaching support stripped from them over EMAIL after raising complaints about the culture at Badminton England

  • Trio have been blocked from working with their own national team coaches 
  • Three Team GB players had criticised the culture of the sport’s governing body
  • Move raises more questions about the culture in the British Olympic system 

Three Team GB badminton players have been blocked from working with their own national team coaches after criticising the culture of the sport’s governing body.

Sportsmail understands Tokyo 2020 participants Marcus Ellis, Lauren Smith and Chloe Birch have all had their coaching support withdrawn following a post-Olympics fall-out with Badminton England staff including Nathan Robertson, the Athens 2004 mixed doubles silver medallist.

The Lottery-funded players had tried to initiate clear-the-air talks with head coach Pete Jeffrey and national coach Robertson earlier this month over longstanding concerns about the environment at the National Badminton Centre and the mental wellbeing of players. 

Marcus Ellis (left) and Lauren Smith (right) have had badminton coaching support withdrawn

However, sources claim Jeffrey and Robertson failed to attend the meeting and a day later the three athletes were told over email they could not use Badminton England coaches in the immediate future ‘to give all concerned time and space to take steps to begin the rebuilding of professional relationships and trust’.

It means three of Britain’s best players are now without support heading into a packed winter of tournaments, concluding with December’s World Championships in Huelva, Spain.

Sportsmail’s revelations will raise more questions about the culture within the British Olympic system, following complaints about the welfare of athletes in sports like gymnastics and cycling in recent times. It is also another example of a sport engulfed in civil war in the wake of Tokyo 2020 after similar fall-outs in athletics and rowing. 

Issues at Badminton England first came to the surface in the build-up to this summer’s Olympics, when Ellis and Smith went public with their complaints in an interview with Sportsmail.

Ellis said a ‘toxic’ and ‘hostile’ environment had left him struggling to sleep after he and Chris Langridge, who won bronze together at Rio 2016, were dropped as Team GB’s men’s doubles pairing in favour of lower-ranked duo Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.

Smith, who is Ellis’ girlfriend and played mixed doubles with him in Tokyo, also said players had ‘lost their voice under a domineering coach-centred system’ and that Badminton England had ‘neglected their duty of care for our mental wellbeing’. It was subsequently announced that UK Sport would carry out a ‘culture health check’ after the Olympics.

Ellis (seen right) won Britain's first Olympic badminton medal since 2004 with a bronze in Rio

Ellis (seen right) won Britain’s first Olympic badminton medal since 2004 with a bronze in Rio

Team GB failed to win a medal in badminton at Tokyo, with Ellis and Smith reaching the mixed doubles quarter-finals. 

Smith also played with Birch in the women’s doubles and they were knocked out in the group stage. Following the Olympics, Badminton England chief executive Adrian Christy stepped down after 15 years in the role.

UK Sport have since conducted their ‘walk the floor’ visit, which included interviews with staff and athletes, and their findings are expected soon.

Badminton England declined to comment.