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Shane Sutton alleged to have referred to para-cyclists as ‘gimps’ and ‘wobblies’

Darren Kenny says time with British Cycling was “one of the most unpleasant periods of my life”

The latest claims about Shane Sutton are that he referred to para-cyclists as ‘gimps’ and ‘wobblies.’  The British Cycling technical director is currently suspended pending an investigation into discrimination allegations.

In a Daily Mail report, six-time Paralympic gold medallist Darren Kenny says he heard members of the British disability team referred to in highly derogatory terms by Sutton.

"The attitude towards them was abysmal. We were tolerated at best. The term used to refer to us was generally 'gimps', with another word in front of that. I know others had an issue as well with not being allowed on the track and not being given time to prepare for competitions."

The paper also quoted another source who is said to have worked closely with Sutton, who claimed: “They were referred to as wobblies. It was an in-joke used to describe para-cyclists.”

Referring to his time with British Cycling as “one of the most unpleasant periods of my life,” Kenny said that he didn’t think ‘some people’ ever considered para-cyclists to be elite athletes, “and since I’ve left I’ve not seen or heard of any change towards equality.”

He also had words of support for Jess Varnish whose sexism allegations precipitated the current saga, backing up her view that there is a culture of fear preventing other riders from speaking out.

“It makes it very difficult for someone like Jess when they stand up and say something because you can’t get any back-up from riders who are in the system because they’re all scared of losing their place. Then anyone that’s out of the system is branded bitter or not good enough.”

Earlier in the week, Victoria Pendleton highlighted the paucity of women in leadership positions within British Cycling and Kenny too sees this as symptomatic of wider cultural failings.

“A lot of the male riders go on to work for British Cycling after their careers have finished. I don’t know of any women or para-riders who have gone on to work for them afterwards and I think that reflects the hierarchy.”

In addition to Sutton’s suspension, British Cycling has announced the formation of an independent review, in conjunction with UK Sport, of the federation's performance programmes following allegations of discriminatory behaviour.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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30 comments

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barbarus | 7 years ago
0 likes

I've got a boss like this; ex military, operates through fear, bully etc. It's great, he really motivates me to do my best...

Nah not really, it's a bloody nightmare.

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Jacobi | 7 years ago
1 like

According to the BBC, Shane Hutton has resigned.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/36153485

Hopefully BC continue the investigation and don't use his resignation as an excuse to sweep it under the carpet.

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OhYesWell replied to Jacobi | 7 years ago
2 likes
Jacobi wrote:

According to the BBC, Shane Hutton has resigned.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/36153485

Hopefully BC continue the investigation and don't use his resignation as an excuse to sweep it under the carpet.

 

His resignation certainly isn't enough and we need to expose all the nasties from whoever within British Cycling. Then they get binned off with NO PAYOFF & NO PENSION.

Too often the "we learned a lesson" clause gets trotted out and the guilty walk off still in profit. Not in this case folks.

BC have stated "independent" in respect of the investigation: in that case they should only get to see any report one minute AFTER it arrives in the public domain.

 

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peted76 | 7 years ago
3 likes

- Crowd: A witch! A witch! A witch! We found a witch! We've got a witch! A witch! A witch! We have found a witch. May we burn her?
- How do you know she is a witch
- She looks like one.
- Bring her forward.
- I'm not a witch! I'm not a witch !
- But you are dressed as one.
- They dressed me like this. - No, we didn't.
- And this isn't my nose. It's a false one.
- Well?

- We did do the nose.
- The nose?

And the hat. But she is a witch !
- Did you dress her up like this?

- No, no!
- Yes. A bit.
- She has got a wart.
- What makes you think she's a witch?
- She turned me into a newt!
- A newt?
- I got better.
- Burn her anyway!

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WolfieSmith | 7 years ago
3 likes

Let's cut through all the speculation and demand an answer from Sutton now on the only question that really matters to the Road.CC comments section.  Does he or does he not favour a ban on disk brakes in pro races??!! yes

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Edgeley | 7 years ago
2 likes

"I don't get the same maternity leave as my wife, how is this equal? "-

 

if you are in England you do get the same maternity leave as your wife, and you can split it between you as you wish.

 

See, even this bloody conservative government is more forward thinking than BC.

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gethinceri | 7 years ago
1 like

No, I haven't read it. I'm sure the sales figures show that some people have, though.

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ped | 7 years ago
0 likes

Apropos to nothing, has anyone read Nicole Cooke's book, The Breakaway? Definately worth a read …

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bikewithnoname | 7 years ago
0 likes

Lets all take a deep breath and calm down. Not one of these accusations have, as yet been corroborated, so rather than calling for the guy's head on a stick lets just wait for the investigation.

The accusations could be true, or they could be sour grapes. Faux outrage on social media doesn't really help the situation though.

 

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alansmurphy | 7 years ago
1 like

Gizmo, I'll volunteer for Trott higging duties, I'll even waive the fee  1

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alansmurphy | 7 years ago
2 likes

A few of Darren Kenny's phrases and actions offend me, firstly he has gone to the Daily Mail, a racist cyclist hating publication.

His statement about equality is bollocks to, why does everyone strive for 'equality' as opposed to 'what is due'. I don't get the same maternity leave as my wife, how is this equal? But to the point, how much pf British Cycling's money, resource etc. comes from Paralympian or Female cycling? If funding is based on certain gender, events etc. then it benefits all that these are prioritised.

Also, AST1986 your reference to Fergie shouting, he caused abh to Beckham from what i remember.

JonD scapegoat is correct in this instance, Kenny said it was an in joke, who was he joking with? Name names, shame them all, otherwise single out the loudest and most famous voice.

The timing is terrible as well, in the build up to the olympics Kenny will get maximum traction. Why did he not speak out when involved, surely he has led many more people to suffer by his selfishness!

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jollygoodvelo | 7 years ago
2 likes

Am I alone in finding this all a little upsetting?  For years we have been told that the BC system is the medal factory, the exemplar of extracting the very best from people.  And now it's apparently a hive of bullies, sexists, anti-paracyclist prejudice and who knows what else (are there any homosexual riders?)

 

Steve Peters would undoubtedly not approve of some of the things being reported, but having read his book I suspect he might approve of some of them.  Some people need an arm around them to perform at their best.  Some people need shouting at to wake them up.  Some people need to be told they're not good enough before they put the extra shove in to prove how good they are.  Of course, the skill is using the right approach for the right person at the right time - and if you get it wrong then you're the bully/wimp/sexist/etc.  Jess V has a big bum.  It's a tool of her trade and source of her power and as such Sutton has a right to mention it - but obviously taken out of context that might sound terrible.  Similarly, much as I love Vicky P and without knowing her I get the distinct impression she had a need to prove herself especially to male role models.  Was part of Sutton's approach to knock her down to make her prove herself?

 

I still consider anything written in the Daily Mail to be lies until proven otherwise.

 

Lastly, can someone please give Laura Trott a hug, tell her not to listen to all this nastiness and just keep being amazing?  I don't say that to be sexist but she's probably my second favourite rider and I'd be horrified if her career was derailed by all this upheaval.

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Zebra | 7 years ago
2 likes

Sutton strikes me as a hard man with a typical 1950's era hard man attitude to things.  It can get results, but has a limited lifespan and burns a lot of people along the way.  Probably not surprising really, given that his racing career was under the tutelage of Charlie Walsh as Australian Head Coach.  Walsh was very successful at getting results over quite at long period, but was also in later years criticised for his hardnosed approach, favouritism of some athletes, disdain for others, intolerance of any question or criticism.  The culture prevented it coming out for 20 years, but now some very respected athletes  such as Scott McGrory, Kathy Watt and Baden Cooke are telling their stories, and it is not pretty.   Sutton probably learnt a lot from Walsh and what Cycling Australia was like then.  British Cycling is correct to conduct a full review. 

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SoBinary replied to Zebra | 7 years ago
1 like
Zebra wrote:

Sutton strikes me as a hard man with a typical 1950's era ...

Excellent points - the question that should be being asked IMHO is if this training method is relevant rather than the more emotive is Sutton sexist.  With the advent of sports psychology you would imagine that we can do better than an angry guy shouting at people.  Answering that question would make the training better.

 

 

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RTB | 7 years ago
5 likes

Sutton's position is now untenable so expect him to be gone, sooner the better given the proximity to the Olympics.  Clearly there is a wider embedded malign culture at BC that needs root cause treatment.  Plot lost much.

Big difference between a ruthlessly obsessive high performance, high achievement, marginal gains environment dedicated to winning versus an abusive, dictatorial, fearful and oppressive cabal.

Cycling authorities need to grow up, reform and move into modern times ditching this sort of outdated offensive nonsense.

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SoBinary replied to RTB | 7 years ago
0 likes
RTB wrote:

Cycling authorities need to grow up, reform and move into modern times ditching this sort of outdated offensive nonsense.

I'm fairly sure Steve Peters would find the "bully for results" approach a little outdated.

 

 

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Matt_S | 7 years ago
0 likes

I reckon he probably had a bit of crazy party in his office the night before, and was overheard saying "get those effin' gimps and wobblies out of of here now!".

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M3NDEREZ | 7 years ago
3 likes

I do agree that this abhorrent attitude towards female cyclists is indicative of BC as a whole, and needs to be adressed, but that doesn't for one second mean that Sutton should be allowed to continue pedalling his small-mindedness to future GB cyclists. I for one respect Varnish for speaking out, even though it undoubtedly means the end of her career, which in it's self is a tragedy. 

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SoBinary replied to M3NDEREZ | 7 years ago
1 like
M3NDEREZ wrote:

even though it undoubtedly means the end of her career, which in it's self is a tragedy. 

I think she spoke out BECAUSE it was the end of her career or to remove the person who was telling her her career was at an end...  it would I agree have been truly brave if she had spoken out before that point.

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Mungecrundle | 7 years ago
3 likes

This isn't a primary school sports day where everyone is a winner just for competing. There is obviously a place for uncompromising coaching standards, tough motivation and harsh words if an athlete isn't putting in the expected effort. However these are elite athletes (male, female, paralympian alike) and should be treated with the respect that their dedication deserves. I'm sure it's hard enough for anyone to get a training place at the top of British Cycling, even harder to have the ability to nurture and encourage that talent in the right way. But it would seem to me that if you systematically undermine any group due to a culture of casual unthinking discrimination then you are throwing medal chances away and frankly bringing back medals is what the coaching team are paid to do.

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kitkat | 7 years ago
3 likes

Sutton shouldn't be the scapegoat here, there needs to be a full review of the organisation to understand where the problems are coming from and who was doing something about it

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JonD replied to kitkat | 7 years ago
11 likes
kitkat wrote:

Sutton shouldn't be the scapegoat here, there needs to be a full review of the organisation to understand where the problems are coming from and who was doing something about it

Review, indeed, but 'scapegoat' implies picking up blame on someone else's behalf; given that he seems to be the originator of these comments and that since 2002 he's been team coach or technical director (new post created on 2014 when brailsford left as performance director) then he's been at least complicit and more likely responsible for the culture cited, and certainly in a position to change it.

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SoBinary | 7 years ago
2 likes

I'd hazard a guess that Shane Sutton is equally foul mouthed and obnoxious to men / women and the disabled alike.  Cycling at an elite level is about tolerance to physical pain and Shane Suttons success at managing people at that level isn't because he asks nicely.  I wonder how many athletes who have tolerated his abuse (dare I say benefited from it) are now a little upset that their technical director is not there for them 3 months before the Olympics.

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Chasseur Patate replied to SoBinary | 7 years ago
21 likes
SoBinary wrote:

I'd hazard a guess that Shane Sutton is equally foul mouthed and obnoxious to men / women and the disabled alike.  Cycling at an elite level is about tolerance to physical pain and Shane Suttons success at managing people at that level isn't because he asks nicely.  I wonder how many athletes who have tolerated his abuse (dare I say benefited from it) are now a little upset that their technical director is not there for them 3 months before the Olympics.

 

There's a marked difference between being a firm, no-nonsense, results driven manager and just being an abhorrent twat.

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SoBinary replied to Chasseur Patate | 7 years ago
0 likes
Chasseur Patate wrote:

There's a marked difference between being a firm, no-nonsense, results driven manager and just being an abhorrent twat.

 

And I'm fairly sure that if any of us met Shane Sutton we'd almost certainly put him in the "Abhorrent Twat" category.. I suspect he might even agree himself.  When Bradley Wiggins turned to him to prepare him for TDF it was almost certainly because Bradley knew he needed an "Abhorrent Twat" to knock him into shape... not everyone requires the same.

I can only imagine what it is like at this level but the relationships and atmosphere are certainly not what average people would consider normal.  I imagine that since elite cyclists are essentially masocists that their trainers are often sadists.

My point is that Sutton whilst umpleasant does not make British Cylcing sexist since I imagine he is equally capable of belittling and being nasty to white able bodied hetrosexual males.

Whether this culture or training method belongs in the 21st century is a separate debate but the media and interested parties conflating the two issues is disingenuous.

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Chasseur Patate replied to SoBinary | 7 years ago
8 likes
SoBinary wrote:

 

My point is that Sutton whilst umpleasant does not make British Cylcing sexist since I imagine he is equally capable of belittling and being nasty to white able bodied hetrosexual males.

 

 

Well, that's bollocks frankly.  Sexist comments are not automatically made unsexist by turning around and then insulting someone else.  

 

"It's ok, that wasn't sexist, I've just wiped it out by insulting the disabled too, see? I'm being equal and diverse."  Then going on to also insult or belittle  'white able bodied hetrosexual males' does not then make it all alright.

 

"Oh he's like that to everyone" Is not acceptable, and I work in a field that has struggled to catch on to that more than anywhere. 

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SoBinary replied to Chasseur Patate | 7 years ago
2 likes
Chasseur Patate wrote:

Well, that's bollocks frankly.  Sexist comments are not automatically made unsexist by turning around and then insulting someone else.  

If thats what I had meant it indeed would have been "bollocks".  I imagine that Suttons rudeness is akin to a shotgun and he manages to be offensive to all.  I worked in a workplace where rudeness and banter was constant and VERY offensive, the abuse was not bullying because it didn't last long because it was shared out.  The same people who insulted me daily would have walked over broken glass to lay down in traffic to prevent me coming to harm.  For an outsider the culture was toxic for an insider it was tight and supportive.  My experiences may be very different to this scenario and I could be very wrong but I throw this in for balance.  

Under Brailsford the womens academy was closed down, under Sutton it is being resurected and grown... this says nothing about either man but it does cause me to question if British Cycling is more sexist under Sutton than it has been in the past.  I'd like to judge people by their deeds not their words, deeds are less open to misinterpretation and being taken out of context than words.

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Alessandro replied to SoBinary | 7 years ago
13 likes
SoBinary wrote:

I'd hazard a guess that Shane Sutton is equally foul mouthed and obnoxious to men / women and the disabled alike.  Cycling at an elite level is about tolerance to physical pain and Shane Suttons success at managing people at that level isn't because he asks nicely.  I wonder how many athletes who have tolerated his abuse (dare I say benefited from it) are now a little upset that their technical director is not there for them 3 months before the Olympics.

 

Shouting, anger and passion is one thing (I'd image that things were pretty heated in the Manchetser United dressing room when Fergie wasn't happy) but racism, discrimination and abuse is entirely different. 

 

If the allegations of what he is supposed to have said are true then he should be out of a job immediately without any sort of severance package.

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SoBinary replied to Alessandro | 7 years ago
1 like
AST1986 wrote:

but racism, discrimination and abuse is entirely different. 

 

I agree those issues have no place in the 21st century - however defining them is less than simple.

"Move on - do something else - start a family"

To a man probably OK - to a woman probably sexism ... if it was.

To woman "You're past it - give it up and raise babies"

To man "You're past it - give it up and take up golf"

definite evidence of sexism altough to both the bad part of the sentence to the athlete would be the first bit, the second part is actionable for the woman but not the man. 

 

I have NO DOUBT that Shane Sutton is a dinosaur (from the 1950's) and his time in a high profile organisation is probably over.

 

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BeatPoet replied to SoBinary | 7 years ago
1 like
SoBinary wrote:

I'd hazard a guess that Shane Sutton is equally foul mouthed and obnoxious to men / women and the disabled alike.  Cycling at an elite level is about tolerance to physical pain and Shane Suttons success at managing people at that level isn't because he asks nicely.  I wonder how many athletes who have tolerated his abuse (dare I say benefited from it) are now a little upset that their technical director is not there for them 3 months before the Olympics.

Who gives a shit. If the quotes are true the guy's a complete moron. And nasty with it.

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