Shane Sutton has said he is ‘confident’ he will be cleared of wrongdoing and returned to his position as technical director at British Cycling, as the organisation works to expand its staff with a performance director and a new chief executive.
Current CEO Ian Drake is to leave the organisation in April, and the former Team GB rider Sara Symington is a hot tip for the performance director role.
But opinion is divided on whether Sutton should be invited back, after a string of accusations about his behaviour from top-level athletes, including Jess Varnish, who says he told her to “go and have a baby”.
Sutton resigned in April over the furore, but told the Telegraph: “I’d like to think they would ask me to reconsider my resignation. I resigned when I did to take the heat off the team 100 days out from the Olympic Games. But I totally refute the claims.”
He has some support in the organisation; this summer we reported how Sir Bradley Wiggins said that he was still in touch with Sutton.
“Selfishly, from a personal point of view, we [the men’s endurance squad] had nothing to do with Shane since he took the sort of blazer office job,” Wiggins said. “He wasn't around in the track centre any more. And the day it all happened, when it all hit the fan, we went to the US for a month and missed the whole mass hysteria phase.
“When we came back it was all about new bikes and it had all blown over that storm. So from a team pursuit point of view we haven’t really noticed it – he was here one day and out the next - but it's been noticed higher up the chain. The office is quieter now.”
“I’ve had a couple of texts from him. Shane was the first to text me and say ‘I’m still concerned about this from a performance point of view.’ Or ‘You’ve got to get Burkey [Steven Burke] out of the pub’.
"Just wanting to know how the group's going, or when we were in America how the training camp had gone. I think at the heart of it all he still loves the performance stuff really and I guess that was his downfall, going up the chain.
“His greatest asset was coaching and I think everyone has said that. He’s the best coach in the world probably.”
The board is understood to be split over whether to invite Sutton back should he be cleared.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.