Barriers exist for black, Asian and minority ethnic people entering sports administration, says former Olympic and world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu.
A Sporting Equals audit found 26 of 601 board members – just over 4% – are from BAME backgrounds.
Only two of 68 chairpersons or chief executives are BAME.
“Talking to other athletes and sportspeople, they are expressing concern that it is a world not open for them,” said Briton Ohuruogu, 32.
“They won’t be welcomed, won’t be valued and it is very negative. They have gone as far as they can as athletes but they don’t feel there is any more room for them to go.”
Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan told BBC Sport that “greater representation” was needed in boardrooms to “increase role models”.
The Labour MP for Tooting added: “It is about empowering people who are already at the top of their game and those who have finished their sporting career and want to take up a position in the boardroom.”
What is the audit?
Sporting Equals works to promote ethnic diversity in sport, and its audit included responses from grassroots sports organisations funded by Sport England and some institutions funded by UK Sport.
Taking into account the UK BAME population of 14%, it revealed:
- Only one BAME chairman remains – down from two in 2015
- There is only one BAME chief executive – Nigel Walker at the English Institute of Sport
- 26 board members (4%) are BAME – up by 17 from last year
Khan leading the way
Wasim Khan was the first Britain-born Pakistani to play professional county cricket, and was part of Warwickshire’s double-winning side in 1995.
In 2014, Leicestershire made him the first BAME chief executive of a county cricket club.
“There is still a huge amount of work to be done but, for the first time, we have seen some real positive work,” he told BBC Sport at a Sporting Equals event in London.
“One of the excuses thrown is that there is not enough talent in the BAME community but that will be addressed now.
“This is not based around tokenism; this is on merit. We want people to have a competitive chance of getting into sport.”
Khan said he had to “break the mould” as a youngster but said change is now taking place.
For the first time, England’s cricket team have four Britain-born Muslims in their side – Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Haseeb Hameed and Zafar Ansari.
Khan added: “In terms of diversity, you can see it is starting to happen in cricket and they are leading the way.
“We need to make sure more are making it into leadership positions because there are enough role models now.”