Following a lengthy internal investigation, British Cycling announced today, its decision to uphold allegations of sexism made by track cyclist Jess Varnish, against former technical director Shane Sutton.
According to the allegations, Varnish says she was dropped from the British Cycling’s Olympic program, after she spoke out about how Sutton had told her “that she was too old and should move on and go and have a baby.”
After the initial complaint, Sutton was suspended by the organization for three days, before resigning from his position.
Varnish, who has won medals at the Commonwealth Games and European and World Championships, failed to qualify for the Olympic team sprint in March and was subsequently dropped from the world class program.
He said her contract was not renewed because her times had slowed over the past three years and she was “not up to the job”.
Further allegations were made in light of Varnish’s comments, including one claim that Sutton had called paracyclists ‘wobblies’ and that he had referred to another rider as a “dirty terrorist” when he turned up to the track with a beard.
Earlier this month, British Cycling launched their search for a new performance director. Despite the mounting allegations, Sutton remained hopeful that the panel would clear him and he would be able to return to his former post.
However, British Cycling upheld Varnish’s allegations today, and issued the following statements.
“The board wishes to put on record its sincere regret that this happened. The findings of the investigation will help the development of the organization alongside the independent review into the culture of the World Class Program, jointly commissioned by British Cycling and UK Sport, and led by Annamarie Phelps.”
“However, following an internal investigation, the British Cycling board has upheld an allegation made by Jess Varnish that former technical director Shane Sutton had used inappropriate and discriminatory language.”
“The full text of the board’s report has been made available to the independent review. No further comment will be made until that review has reported its findings.”
Sutton, who won Commonwealth gold as a rider, joined British Cycling as a coach in 2002.
He was part of the team that won seven track gold medals at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, before being promoted following Brailsford’s departure in 2014.
In 2009, British cycling legend Chris Hoy, who went on to win six Olympic gold medals, described Sutton as his mentor and said he had been “hugely influential in my success”.
He said Sutton, who also mentored Sir Bradley Wiggins, is “so intense that there are times that the only thing you can do is fall out with him”.
“Hoy added: Half the time you want to throttle the guy and the other half you are trying to get into his good books.”
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