Jess Varnish has been dropped from British Cycling’s Olympic podium programme. The sprinter was critical of the organisation after the track world championships in London, but technical director Shane Sutton said the decision had been taken “purely on performance grounds.”
Varnish and team sprint partner Katy Marchant were highly critical of their coaches after failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics in that event. Speaking to the BBC at trackside, Varnish took issue with how the team’s management had tinkered with the squad.
“I feel sick. We have been basically playing catch up through bad decisions and bad luck. How many more times can I keep putting my life on hold, making these choices for my career, if it’s not going to pay off, through no fault of our own?
“There’s been people put out for races, say the European Championships last year … it’s great they’ve been given an opportunity in major championships and to try to qualify the ‘A team’ for a place at Olympic Games, but they’re not there yet.
“It should not be their job. To have to qualify for the Olympic Games, it should not be a development programme. It should be A team, A team, A team. It’s not happened.”
Speaking to The Telegraph, Sutton said:
“The evidence doesn’t lie. There were 10 events which counted [towards qualification]. Jess participated in eight, Katy in seven. They went head-to-head on five occasions with the French team who beat them overall by three points, and the French beat them on four occasions. So they didn’t deserve the place. She [Varnish] had a golden opportunity to qualify. But then because she didn’t she looked to blame everyone else.”
Varnish had however still harboured hopes of being entered for the individual sprint events but has not had her contract renewed and has ceased training at the national velodrome in Manchester.
Sutton said that if anything her performances had deteriorated in recent years.
“Jess is 25. She has been with us a long, long time. She qualified 17th in the match sprint [in London] so her chances of medalling in Rio were very very slim if not none. And she hasn’t gone as quick as she went three years ago … There is no point carrying on and wasting UK Sport’s money on someone who is not going to medal going forward.”
Sutton has also felt it necessary to speak with Varnish’s boyfriend, 2013 BMX world champion, Liam Phillips, about not renewing her contract.
“I had a long chat with him to try to make him understand that we don’t take these decisions lightly. It wasn’t as though we ‘got rid’ of Jess. It’s just that it was up for renewal and we didn’t renew it.”