30/11/2011 11:31 GMT

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year: Female MPs Including Harriet Harman Criticise Shortlist

MPs have accused the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award of "ignoring women's achievements" in 2011 with its selection of an all-male shortlist.

A group of women MPs has written to BBC director general Mark Thompson complaining that the move has undermined efforts to encourage female participation in sport and requesting a meeting to discuss the "bias".

London Olympics head Lord Coe expressed his surprise at the shortlist and a number of sportswomen criticised the exclusion of their colleagues.

World champion women this year have included Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne in swimming, triathlete Chrissie Wellington and Sarah Stevenson in taekwondo.

In a letter to Mr Thompson, Labour's Stella Creasy, Alison McGovern and Joan Walley and Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson said: "We are very concerned that, this year, not one single woman has been shortlisted for the public vote.

"This outcome is extremely unhelpful to the promotion of women's sport in the UK. It will result in the annual TV programme - usually a great occasion for British sport - ignoring women's achievements in 2011.

"This bias has led to a number of outstanding sporting achievements by women being entirely disregarded.

"Rebecca Adlington, Keri-Anne Payne, Victoria Pendleton, Chrissie Wellington, Nicola Adams, Jessica Ennis, Sarah Stevenson, Beth Tweddle, Hannah England and Kath Grainger, among others, have all been fantastically successful within their respective fields, yet none have made the shortlist."

The MPs asked whether the rules could be altered to ensure there were men and women on the shortlist in future years.

"A great deal of work is done each year by the sporting community to encourage women and girls into sport, and the absence of women from this award severely undermines those efforts," they added.